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Don’t automatically fire after FMLA, STD leave expire

by on
in Employment Law,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. Our policy is to run FMLA and short-term disability (STD) concurrently. FMLA is for 12 weeks of job-protected leave. STD is for 26 weeks, with proper medical documentation. At what point can we terminate an employee, at the end of 12 weeks, when FMLA leave is exhausted? And, if so, do we end short-term disability payments, since the employee has been terminated? —E.A., Georgia

A. You can't automatically terminate employees after their 12-week FMLA period expires. Nor can you automatically fire someone at the end of any fixed time frame. Although FMLA allows only a 12-week leave of absence, you often must provide leave beyond 12 weeks because of the ADA's “reasonable accommodation” provision.

How long of a leave does the ADA require? That question must be resolved on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, the ADA requires as little as 12 weeks, and in other cases it requires more than 18 months. The answer depends on the nature of the employee's position, the size of your company and past practice.

One last note: Most employers that choose to buy STD plans providing 26 weeks of coverage don't seek to terminate employment prior to the expiration of the 26 weeks. Indeed, why would your company buy a 26-week policy if it intends to terminate after 12?

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