FMLA Requirements Still Apply When STD Is Involved

March 5, 2014

Authored by: Christy Phanthavong

When an employee’s request for a medical leave may qualify for both unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and compensation under an employer’s Short Term Disability (“STD”) plan or policy, it can be tempting to allow the STD process to drive the administration of the leave.  After all, a reduction in paperwork is always welcome, and the employer is permitted to rely on information received through the STD process when determining whether the employee is entitled to FMLA leave.

However, there are a number of FMLA notice requirements and other considerations that should be keep in mind when processing a claim for medical leave:

  • FMLA eligibility should be determined before moving on to the FMLA and/or STD entitlement determination.  Within five business days of receiving notice that an employee’s leave may be for an FMLA-qualifying reason, the employer must provide the employee with notice of the employee’s eligibility to take FMLA leave.  Thus, it is important to ensure that the eligibility analysis for FMLA purposes is conducted, and the employee is informed of his/her eligibility status, prior to moving into the determination of whether the employee’s health condition entitles the employee to leave (under the FMLA and/or STD policy).
  • FMLA eligibility can be attained during an STD leave.  Depending on the circumstances, an employee who is not eligible for FMLA leave when an STD or other medical leave begins may become eligible for the FMLA’s protections during the leave