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Leaves of Absence: Do Employers Need to Provide Health Insurance During These Times?

Jeff Griffin

Employees who take qualifying leaves of absence are provided multiple protections by way of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA), and many state laws.

The most well-known protection is the guarantee of the same or an equivalent job when employees return to work, but there are also other protections. For example, many of these laws stipulate employers’ obligations regarding health insurance during employees’ qualifying leaves of absence.

The following is a breakdown of FMLA, USERRA, and some general state laws with regards to employer-provided health insurance coverage.

FMLA and Health Insurance

In order to meet the requirements for an FMLA-qualifying leave of absence, employees must meet four criteria.

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Topics: Compliance, Qualifying Life Events, FMLA, USERRA

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Government Shutdown Raises Employee Benefit Questions For Private Sector Employers Too

Jeff Griffin

Staff of private sector employers – those who have immediate family members affected by the government shutdown - are asking employee benefit questions of their employers which are entirely new to them.

Chief among them is the question of if the government furlough is considered a Qualifying Life Event (QLE) for any affected government employee. A QLE would allow the impacted individual to move over to their family’s private sector, or unaffected public sector health plan if the worker is otherwise eligible. This event would also trigger a Special Enrollment Opportunity.

According to benefits compliance experts ThinkHR, employees who choose to quit their jobs during this tumultuous period do, in fact, create a QLE. This would simply be considered a “change in employment status”, which includes:

  • Quitting a job or being laid off
  • Being hired (keeping in mind waiting periods, if applicable)
  • Gaining or losing benefits by moving from part-time to full time employment status (or vice versa)

What’s less clear is if a furloughed employee who doesn’t intend to quit their job can jump to their family member’s health coverage, either permanently, or for a shorter period of time.

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Topics: Spousal Coverage, Dependent Coverage, Qualifying Life Events, Special Enrollment Periods, Special Enrollment Opportunity

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