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Short Term Disability

Can you clarify short term disability? Our company offers short term disability. One employee is having surgery in January. Is she legally required to take all her pto time? She will be off for approx 4 weeks which is equivalent to her pto.

Short term disability (STD) is a type of insurance that pays a portion of an employee’s salary for a specified time frame if he/she is unable to work due to an injury or illness. Paid time off (PTO) is a benefit that provides a bank of hours usually to include vacation, sick, and personal time.

There is no legal requirement for an employee to have PTO let alone whether it must be used during a leave of absence. PTO policies are considered a matter of agreement between employer and employee. So, employers are generally free to adopt such policies at their discretion.

It’s fairly common for employers to require employees to use their PTO for any leave of absence. But, it’s really at your discretion. Just remember whatever you decide sets a precedent for other employees in similar situations.

Since the employee is to be absent for a medical reason, it’s important to consider if she is covered under federal or state leave and discrimination laws. The two federal laws to consider are the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave for certain family and medical reasons.

FMLA applies to public agencies, including State, local and Federal employers, and local education agencies (schools); and, private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year – including joint employers and successors of covered employers.

Eligible employees include those who have worked for the covered employer for at least 12 months; and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the FMLA leave; and, work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed at the location or within 75 miles of the location.

The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any aspect of employment. Under the ADA, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with covered disabilities unless doing so would cause an undue hardship, meaning a significant difficulty or expense.

The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees. Any employee with a covered disability is protected under the ADA regardless of his or her tenure with a company.

It’s the employer’s responsibility to determine if an employee has a covered disability under the ADA. If so, it’s also the employer’s responsibility to engage in an interactive exchange of information with the employee to determine what, if any, reasonable accommodations can be made to allow the employee to perform her job. A short term leave of absence may be considered a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

Employers are permitted to require employees on FMLA leave or on leave as an accommodation under the ADA to use their PTO. But, if employees are receiving STD benefits while on FMLA leave, they cannot be required to use their PTO.  Employers and employees may agree, where state law permits, to have PTO supplement the STD benefits, where the total amount received doesn’t exceed 100% of the employee’s salary.


This entry was posted on Thursday, December 8th, 2016 at 12:52 pm and is filed under
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