Disability Benefits and Employee Leave Laws

By Michelle Roberts Bartolic, Esq. and Katharine Chao, Esq.

Your health has taken a turn for the worse. Suddenly, you find yourself needing to focus 100% on your recovery. But, then it hits you like a ton of bricks. “What about my job?” “What about my benefits?” Navigating the maze of rules and applications may feel daunting. We’re here to provide you with some basic information about employee benefits and employment leave laws to help make your trek towards improved health a little easier. To learn more, join us in person for an informational session on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. The details are below.

Disability Benefits

There are a number of possible sources for continued income while you are out of work due to a disability.

Sick Pay – California law requires employers to provide at least 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave per year. (More information can be found here:  www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Paid_Sick_Leave.htm).

State Disability Insurance – California’s State Disability Insurance (SDI) program provides partial wage replacement to workers who are temporarily unable to work due to illness, injury, or disability. (You can apply online at:  www.edd.ca.gov/Disability/How_to_File_a_DI_Claim_in_SDI_Online.htm).

Voluntary Plans – Some employers offer temporary disability benefits through a voluntary plan, rather than through SDI. The voluntary plan must offer at least as many rights and benefits as SDI. (You can read about voluntary plans here:  www.edd.ca.gov/Disability/Employer_Voluntary_Plans.htm).

California Paid Family Leave – This Act provides up to 6 weeks of partial wage replacement benefits for employees who take time off work to care for certain family members who experience a serious health condition. (You can find more information here:  www.edd.ca.gov/Disability/Paid_Family_Leave.htm).

Workers’ Compensation Insurance – Workers’ Compensation is different than SDI and only covers work-related injuries, illnesses, or disabilities. In most cases, you cannot receive SDI and Workers’ Compensation simultaneously.

Social Security Disability Insurance – This is a federal disability program that provides income for people who are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity for at least 12 months. (SSI is available for people who do not have sufficient work history credit for SSDI). (You can apply for SSDI or SSI here: www.ssa.gov/disabilityssi).

Private Short-term and Long-term Disability Benefits – Your employer may offer either or both short-term and long-term disability benefits. Most employer-provided benefits are governed by a federal law known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Some employers pay for these benefits out of their own coffers, while others will buy insurance policies to fund these benefits. Many issues can arise in applying for these benefits and it’s important not to miss any claim and appeal deadlines.

Leave and Accommodation Laws

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – this federal law provides up to 12 weeks per year of job-protected, unpaid leave for employees who: (1) have a serious health condition; (2) need to care for a family member with a serious health condition; (3) are unable to work due to pregnancy or childbirth; or have a new child in their family; or (4) need to tend to a qualifying exigency arising out of a family member’s active-duty military status. Employers must continue to pay for employees’ health benefits during FMLA leaves.

California Family Rights Act (CFRA) – CFRA is similar to FMLA. To qualify for both, an employee must work for their employer for at least 12 months; work at least 1,250 hours in the year prior to the day they need to begin leave; and work at a worksite with at least 50 employees (or if less than 50 employees, a worksite where the company has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of the worksite).

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)/Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) – The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against a qualified employee on the basis of the employee’s disability. FEHA provides for similar protections. An employer has an affirmative duty to provide “reasonable accommodations.” A reasonable accommodation may come in the form of an extended leave of absence while you are recovering.

If you have questions about your particular situation, feel free to contact the attorneys below or come to BCC’s informational meeting on Tuesday, October 24, 2017.

Michelle Roberts Bartolic
Roberts Bartolic LLP
1050 Marina Village Pkwy., Ste. 105, Alameda, CA  94501
T. (510) 992-6130
D. (510) 992-6129
F. (510) 280-7564
ERISA Law Firm Representing Executives and Professionals in Claims for Disability, Life Insurance, and Pension Benefits

Katharine Chao, Esq.
Chao Legal
1300 Clay Street, Suite 600, Oakland, CA 94612
T. (415) 738-5352
F. (415) 233-4859
Fighting For Justice In The Workplace

Special Presentation

Disability Benefits & Employment Leave Laws

Tuesday, October 24, 2017
5:30-7:00 p.m.
At Bay Area Cancer Connections

Presented by: Michelle Roberts Bartolic, Esq., Roberts Bartolic LLP, Bay Area ERISA Benefits Attorney, and Katharine Chao, Esq., Chao Legal, Employment Attorney

Do you need to take time off of work due to a disability?  Do you know what income and leave benefits are available to you?  Attorneys Michelle Roberts Bartolic and Katharine Chao will provide an informational session about various public and private disability benefits and your workplace right to job-protected leaves of absences or other accommodations.

Please register by calling the BCC Helpline at (650) 326-6686 or email info@bcconnections.org.