An illness or injury, including pregnancy, that prevents a person from working for a short period of time is typically referred to as a short-term disability. In most cases, a short-term disability is one from which an employee expects to recover in short period of time. This time may differ from employer to employer, but is typically restricted to a maximum of 180 days.
Short-term disability, as defined by law, is a relatively new concept in the United States. A 1978 amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 first made pregnancy discrimination illegal in the U.S. This was the first attempt by the government to protect workers in cases of short-term disabilities. Although only five states in the U.S. currently have short-term disability laws on the books, most American workers are protected in cases of short-term illnesses by the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993.
The term "short-term disability" is generally used for insurance purposes. While many companies may choose to offer short-term disability insurance to employees, it is generally considered a benefit. The Family Medical Leave Act provides job protection for some short-term disabilities. However, not all of these illnesses or injuries are protected by law. In most cases, short-term disability only provides monetary assistance to workers.
Short-term disability insurance generally provides either a percentage of income or a pre-defined benefit amount to the employee during a qualifying sick leave. In many cases, the amount decreases over time. This is done to encourage workers to return to work after their disability. For example, a worker may receive 100% of income for the first two of weeks of the leave, but receive only 66% after that.
It is essential for both employers and employees to understand short-term disability laws and regulations in order to avoid exploitation. For instance, workers must know their rights in order to recognize when they are being violated. Conversely, employers must take steps to ensure workers do not exploit their short-term disability benefits to the detriment of the organization. Employers must also understand that there are some cases when it is possible to be fully in compliance with FMLA laws while simultaneously violating Title VII. It is essential to understand the complexities of both laws in order to remain in compliance.