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Maternity Leave

I am a single employee medical office in CA. My employee went out on medical leave to have a baby. She has been off for 11 weeks as her Dr gave her an extended leave due to postpartum depression. When I asked her when she planned coming back she responded she would prefer I fire her so she can stay home and collect unemployment. She is a great employee & I hate to lose her. I am not willing to fire her so I can pay unemployment for her to sit home. I am wondering what my rights are as the employer. I currently have a temp in the office but she is only willing to work until the end of the month. I need to know what my options are so I can plan for next month.

Since there is only one worker employed none of the applicable federal or state laws entitling covered employees to take leave for the birth of a child apply including the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL). The fact that she has been provided eleven weeks of leave is generous.

Though the employer is not mandated to adhere to FMLA regulations, some advice can be taken from the act. The FMLA regulations state that if an employee gives unequivocal notice of intent not to return to work, the employer’s obligations under FMLA to maintain health benefits, subject to COBRA requirements, and to restore the employee’s job cease. The same practice can be applied in this situation.

It’s recommended to send a letter to the employee confirming that she has informed you that she will not be returning to work and you accept her resignation effective immediately. Be sure to follow any normal resignation procedures such as requesting the return of an ID badge or other company property. Retain copies of all documentation.

It’s important to keep in mind that an employee’s resignation doesn’t automatically disqualify her for unemployment insurance benefits.Each state provides its own guidelines for the eligibility of employment insurance benefits to workers. According to the state of California Employment Development Department, an individual who files for unemployment insurance benefits must meet specific eligibility requirements before benefits can be paid. Individuals must:
• Have received enough wages during the base period to establish a claim.
• Be totally or partially unemployed.
• Be unemployed through no fault of his/her own.
• Be physically able to work.
• Be available for work which means to be ready and willing to immediately accept work.
• Be actively looking for work.
• Meet eligibility requirements each week benefits are claimed.

Additionally, if an employee is terminated or resigns a state interviewer obtains and documents information about the separation from the employer and former worker. The interviewer then makes a determination, according to law and regulations, if the individual is eligible to collect unemployment benefits. So, whether the employee is terminated or resigns may not have a significant impact on her eligibility for unemployment benefits. It’s important to document every conversation with the employee specifically the comments regarding her preference to be fired in order to collect unemployment and her intent not to return to work. Make sure to provide such records to the unemployment insurance representative.

This entry was posted on Saturday, August 2nd, 2014 at 9:21 pm and is filed under
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