Can You Be Laid Off While On Short-Term Disability

Is your job protected while you take short-term disability? Unfortunately, short-term disability doesn’t offer any direct job protection. You can legally be fired from your job while on leave, and you also aren’t entitled to the exact same position when you return.

Being granted short- or long-term disability insurance benefits while you are off work does not prevent your employer from taking your job away.By

Short-term and long-term disability insurance policies are intended to offer income protection (cash benefits) to people who become unable to work for medical reasons. What surprises many disability recipients is that these policies offer little to no job protection. In many cases, an employer is legally allowed to fire an employee who is receiving disability benefits, although there are some situations in which an individual would have legal grounds to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination.

Job Protection Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

A federal law known as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides employees with twelve weeks of unpaid leave per year to deal with ones own medical issues or to take care of a sick member of ones immediate family. Not all workplaces are subject to FMLA, and even in those that are, employees must meet certain requirements to be covered by the law. FMLA applies only to companies with 50 or more employees located within 75 miles of each other, and workers must have worked:

  • for a total of at least one year for the employer, and
  • for at least 1,250 hours in the preceding year.
  • Although FMLA leave is unpaid, an employee can receive short-term disability or long-term disability benefits while on FMLA leave. And, in fact, many employers require you to use your allotted FMLA time while youre on disability. For many disabled employees, FMLA is the most important form of job protection they enjoy.

    Your employer may not terminate you if you are on FMLA leave as long as you dont go over 12 weeks of FMLA leave per year. When you return from FMLA leave, your employer must employ you in your former position or one that is substantially similar. If you do exceed 12 weeks of FMLA, even by a day, you run the risk of being terminated for excessive absences. Of course, if youre fired while receiving disability insurance benefits, youll still continue to receive benefits according to the terms of your policy.

    Finally, remember that FMLA is a federal law, and that some states will have more generous policies regarding unpaid medical leave. Check with your states Department of Labor or an employment law attorney to find out the rules where you live.

    How FMLA and the ADA Work Together

    It can be confusing to figure out how the FMLA and the ADA apply to your particular situation, when you are on FMLA or other unpaid leave and receiving disability benefits but you want to return to work eventually. For example, can your employer argue that the fact you are collecting disability insurance benefits means you cant perform the essential functions of the job? No. The definitions of disability used by the ADA and insurance companies (and Social Security and workers comp) are all different, so collecting disability benefits from any of these sources doesnt necessarily mean you cant do the essential functions of the job and are not protected by the ADA.

    This summary may help you apply the FMLA and ADA rules to your personal situation.

    Can I get LTD or short-term disability if I lose my job? | Ohio Disability Attorney Andrew November


    Can you be laid off while on short term disability in California?

    Your employer cannot terminate you because of your medical condition or because you are on medical leave. However, if the employer’s reason for terminating your employment has nothing to do with the injury, illness, or medical leave, the firing may be legal.

    Is there a downside to short term disability?

    Cons of short-term disability

    Self-inflicted injuries: Many disability insurance policies will not cover self-inflicted injuries, the same way a life insurance policy will not cover suicide or death caused while committing a criminal act.

    Can I quit my job after returning from short term disability?

    You can quit your job after a short-term disability without affecting your benefits, but you could jeopardize positive references. Your employer may have held your position open for weeks or months, only to learn that you are not returning to work at the very end.

    Can you be fired while on short term disability in Illinois?

    Unlike the FMLA, short-term disability benefits do not provide for job protection. Therefore, it is possible to be fired from your job while on a short-term disability leave.

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