Leaves of Absence

Feb 18, 2014

What qualifies as a leave of absence? Are you able to maintain all of your employee benefits while on leave? If so, what benefits and for how long? 

There are many reasons that an employee might request a leave of absence and we’ll discuss a few of the most common situations in this week’s blog. Insurance carriers have their own guidelines and provincial legislation may dictate how to handle the extension benefits during a leave, and it is important to check the details of each situation, however I will refer to the most common practices in the industry.

The most common reason for an employee leave of absence is for an illness. Generally, while away from work for an illness, all benefits can continue but premiums are still required to be paid.  If a long term disability claim is approved, it is likely that both the life and LTD insurance premiums will be waived by the insurance company.

Another common reason for a leave is for maternity or parental leave. Again, all insurance coverage may continue for the period of the leave which is 52 weeks for maternity leave and up to 37 weeks for paternity leave in BC. Total leave combined cannot exceed 52 weeks.

A temporary lay-off is quite common during periods of economic slowdown, and all insurance coverage may continue normally for a maximum of 4 months from when the employee was last actively at work. In a similar vein, during a strike or lay off, benefits can continue but again for no more than 4 months unless otherwise noted in the collective agreement. In this situation, even if benefits were to continue, any disability insurance would terminate when the employee is considered to be no longer at work.

There are a number of different types of leaves of absences that could be considered, both paid and unpaid, and it is important to be aware of the implications of any of these options with regards to your benefits coverage and the associated costs to you or your employer while on leave.

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