Employment Law/FMLA Leave

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Question
Hello,

My return to work will be after the allowable date for my FMLA leave (May 23, 2013). My next medical appt. is 5/28/13 and I am currently on a wait and see approach with my surgeon because of fluid issues following my surgery on 2/28/13. Can I apply for an extension for FMLA or is my job rights and position with work in jeopardy? It doesn't seem that they will allow me to return part-time then full time as time permits. I am currently on full time short term disability. Will I loose my medical coverage or can my employer refuse to continue to pay their share of my health insurance costs? I currently pay my employee share each month after I receive my disability check.

Thanks,

Tim

Answer
Tim--the header on your post says your are in the Netherlands, but I'm assuming that isn't where you work, and that US law applies to your questions.

Let me take these one at a time:

"Can I apply for an extension for FMLA or is my job rights and position with work in jeopardy?"

FMLA leave has an annual limit of 12 weeks during either a calendar year or a "rolling" 12-month period, depending on which option the employer chooses.  So if you have not used up your maxiumum 12 weeks of leave, you can get more as long as you meed the medical certification requirements (i.e., it is a serious health condition and your treating physician certifies that you need additional time off.)  It is unlawful for an employer to take any negative action against you for taking FMLA leave, or otherwise to interfere with your exercise of your FMLA rights.

"I am currently on full time short term disability. Will I loose my medical coverage or can my employer refuse to continue to pay their share of my health insurance costs? I currently pay my employee share each month after I receive my disability check."

Here is how the US Department of Labor answers this question on their web site:

"During FMLA leave, the employer must maintain the employee’s health
coverage under any “group health plan” on the same terms as if the
employee had continued to work. Upon return from FMLA leave, most
employees must be restored to their original or equivalent positions
with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms.
Use of FMLA leave cannot result in the loss of any employment benefit
that accrued prior to the start of an employee’s leave."

You can see this document here:

http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/fmlaen.pdf

I hope this is helpful to you.  If you have additional questions feel free to post a follow-up.  

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Frank C. Magill

Expertise

I can answer questions about any U.S. labor or employment law question. I cannot answer questions about non-US law. I am not a specialist in employee benefit law (ERISA and HIPAA) or Workers' Compensation law, but will do my best to point questioners toward good resources availabe online. Expertise includes, without limitation, EEO/Affirmative Action/Employment discrimination (Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, GINA, Fair Credit Reporting Act as applied to employment); Fair Labor Standards Act; Texas labor code; Family Medical Leave Act; employee compensation; discipline and dismissal; force reductions, severance pay programs and administration; collective bargaining, union representation, grievances and arbitration, National Labor Relations Act and National Labor Relations Board; employee handbooks; staffing; dispute resolution outside of traditional labor agreements; employee communications; employment policies and compliance programs; codes of ethics; employment or labor litigation.

Experience

30+ years experience as corporate counsel for a Fortune 100 telecom company, specializing in labor and employment law issues. In addition to providing day-to-day advice to my company's internal HR leadership and staff, I've represented the company in numerous labor arbitration cases and at the bargaining table.

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Texas, Illinois and Missouri state bars

Education/Credentials
J.D. 1979, Harvard Law School. B.A., Summa Cum Laude, 1976, Illinois Wesleyan University.

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