The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) permits qualifying employees of certain employers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to treat a serious medical condition or to care for an immediate family member with a serious medical condition. Although the legislation provides for unpaid time off, in some instances employers may pay their employees during their FMLA absence.
Pay During FMLA Absence
Although the FMLA requires only that employers make leave available to qualifying employees on an unpaid basis, in some instances employees may be able to get paid while on leave. Employees considering using FMLA to obtain time off should review their employer's policy with regards to compensation and sick time.
Sick Time, Pay and FMLA
Some employers provide employees a certain allotment of sick time per pay cycle that can be used to pay the employee while he or she is on sick leave, including certain FMLA leaves. In such cases, however, it is likely that when the employee is using FMLA to care for an immediate family member, the leave will be unpaid.
Health Insurance Coverage on Leave
Although the FMLA grants employees unpaid time off, an employer must nevertheless provide a qualifying employee with health benefits on the same condition as if the insurance coverage had been provided if the employee continued to work. In order to maintain the health insurance coverage, however, the employee must continue to make his or her regular monthly premium contribution. See 29 CFR 825.209.
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An employee's pay must be restored, along with benefits on the same terms and conditions as prior to the leave. FMLA regulations provide that an employee is entitled to unconditional pay increases that may have occurred during the FMLA leave, including for example cost of living increases. An employee's use of FMLA may not result in the loss of an benefit that he or she was entitled to prior to taking the leave. See 29 CFR 825.214; see also 29 CFR 825.215(c).