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Must we continue health insurance when employees are out of work on leave?

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Q. Is our business required to continue to offer health benefits to our employees while they are out on family leave?

A. The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides leave to employees for the:

  • Birth of a child for purposes of bonding
  • Placement of a child for adoption or foster care
  • Serious health condition of a child, parent or spouse
  • Employee’s own serious health condition.

Employers must continue health care coverage for an employee who is on CFRA leave. Employers that provide health benefits under a group health plan must continue to do so during the employee’s leave.

This obligation goes into effect on the date leave first begins and continues for the duration of the leave, up to a maximum of 12 workweeks in a 12-month period.

In addition, employers must provide pregnant employees the same level of insurance benefits during their pregnancy-related leaves as they were provided before taking the leave. As a result, employees who are eligible for pregnancy disability leave as well as leave under CFRA may be eligible to receive continued health benefits coverage for a maximum period of seven months (up to four months for pregnancy disability leave and up to 12 weeks under the CFRA and federal law).

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