Weekly HR News - Salary and Benefits while on FMLA

Weekly HR News – FMLA

Salary and Benefits while on FMLA

Generally, leave under the FMLA is unpaid. However, a city may require within its policy that an employee use accrued paid leave (vacation or sick leave) during FMLA leave.  If the employer does not require the use of paid leave, the employee could take the 12 weeks of FMLA and then take whatever sick or vacation time that they have accrued on top of the 12 weeks of FMLA. 

While on FMLA the employer must maintain the employee’s group health insurance at the same level they would have if not on FMLA.  For example, if the employer pays 100% of the employee plan, the employer would continue to do this during leave.  If the employee pays a portion of their health insurance premium, the employee must continue pay that while on leave, or the employer can pay the entire amount and recover the employee’s portion when the employee returns to work.  Likewise, if the employer pays 100% of the family plan, the employer would continue to pay 100% of the family plan while the employee is on leave.  (29 C.F.R. § 825.209)

If the employer does not pay the employee’s portion, and the employee fails to pay what they owe for the group health insurance premium, the employer’s obligation to maintain health insurance will cease once the premium is more than 30 days late.  However, once the employee is reinstated to work they must be restored to the coverage they would have had if leave had not been taken and the payments had not been missed. 

Any other benefits provided by the employer, such as holiday pay, seniority and paid leave, are maintained as outlined in the employee handbook.  If not designated under FMLA in the handbook, they will accrue, or not, depending on how other types of unpaid leave are handled.  For other benefits, such as elected life insurance coverage, the employer and the employee may make arrangements to continue these benefits during periods of unpaid FMLA leave. Just as with the group health insurance, an employer may elect to continue such benefits to ensure that the employee will be eligible to be restored to the same benefits upon returning to work. At the conclusion of the leave, the employer may recover only the employee's share of premiums it paid to maintain other "non-health" benefits during unpaid FMLA leave.

For additional questions regarding FMLA, contact Andrea Shindlebower.