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:
- Have completed 12 months of work for the employer (not necessarily consecutively)
- Have completed 1,250 hours of work in those 12 months
- Work at a location where there are at least 50 employees present or within 75 miles
- Have a qualifying event
There are many qualifying events, ranging from the birth or adoption of a child, to serious health conditions, to providing for family members who have serious health conditions. Having a family member called to active military duty also qualifies (and extends FMLA benefits from 12 to 26 weeks).