Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Can I Get Fired if I Take Short-Term Disability Leave?

Actually, this question, which I hear a lot, kind of misstates the circumstances.

"Short-term disability leave," per se, does not exist.  If you need to miss work because of sickness, injury, etc., you may be eligible for short-term disability insurance - the premiums are paid for by the company and the benefits, which typically approximate about 2/3rds of your pay, are paid by the insurance company. 

However, short-term disability insurance companies have no control over whether you will get to keep your job if you need to miss work. 

In general, in Pennsylvania there is one law, and one law only, that protects you from being fired if you need to go out on "short-term disability leave."  It is the Family and Medical Leave Act.  Click Here for a comprehensive examination into the interplay between FMLA and short-term disability insurance.  This article also provides links to numerous helpful articles about how FMLA works.

Although short leaves are available under the Americans With Disabilities Act, it is usually FMLA that provides the greatest job security for the longest period of time. 

Many companies have a "short-term disability leave" policy, a title that actually kind of mixes apples and oranges.  In any event, the key thing to remember about company policies is that - companies are under no legal obligation to follow them!  Also, if you look carefully at most of those policies, they don't say anything about guaranteeing your job back when you return.  Moreover, even if they did - such policies are not enforceable under state or federal law.

The only true protection one has from being fired for taking "short-term disability leave" is if you are protected under FMLA. 

Hope this was helpful!

Pennsylvania Family Leave and Disability Attorney

John A. Gallagher, Esquire
Helping Individuals Since 1991
John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents employees in Pennsylvania.

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave…

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of Pennsylvania Unemployment Law, from willful misconduct, to voluntary quit, to Referee Hearings, to severance issues…

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