Do you get paid while on FMLA? The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires qualifying employers to hold your job open for twelve weeks but does not oblige them to continue paying you. Therefore, the direct answer is no.

However, a minority of employees absent for their own medical condition get paid during FMLA if they have a private or public temporary disability program. A smaller group of caregivers is paid while absent if they work in one of several states with a paid family leave policy.

This means that a majority of people may need to find some form of financial assistance during FMLA. These two sets of options may offer help with your monetary problems.

  • Private companies offering financial help with ongoing bills and income support
  • Public assistance through federal and state government agencies

Private Financial Assistance during FMLA

Private companies may be able to provide financial assistance during a family medical leave. Since you are not paid while on FMLA it makes sense to explore all options. These private companies make their money in two different ways while simultaneously helping families when someone is not able to work.

You may be able to find monetary help from private companies while on leave either by settling your debt, borrowing money or by filing a claim for insurance policies already in force.

Family Leave Loans

Request a family leave loan to obtain the financial help you need to pay your ongoing bills while on FMLA. This option will help the greatest number of workers as you do not need to purchase anything before the need arises, and you can take advantage in most states.

You will have to repay the money with interest. However, having the extra funds on hand can keep you from falling behind on payments. One late payment could remain on your consumer report for seven years.

Debt Settlement Programs

Debt consolidation programs can sometimes help after a lag. Families frequently face financial hardship during an unpaid family medical leave. The combination of lost income and additional medical bills are very difficult to manage without falling hopelessly behind on many bills. The settlement company will negotiate with creditors on your behalf.

These are the most important qualifying criteria for a debt settlement program.

  1. Owe more than $10,000 in unsecured debt (credit cards, personal loans, and unpaid medical bills)
  2. You are behind on your payments for three months or longer
  3. You are experiencing financial hardship (lost income and/or unexpected, large medical bills)

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability insurance may provide financial help while on FMLA. A private policy may cover the person who is physically unable to work and may replace up to 70% of income. You must meet the elimination period before claim payments begin.

However, a private policy has three limitations you need to know.

  • The coverage must begin in time. The policy must start before the person becomes sick, hurt, or pregnant. The carrier will exclude pre-existing conditions for at least twelve months.
  • The policy covers the employee only. If the covered employee takes time away from work to care for a sick family member, the policy will not make claims payments.
  • Most policies cover off-the-job incidents. If you injured yourself while working on-the-job, you will not be able to take advantage.

Government Financial Assistance during FMLA

Federal and state government programs may provide financial assistance during a family medical leave in very limited ways and circumstances. The FMLA does not require paid leave. However, other public programs may help you replace a portion of your lost income or reduce expenses.

Eligibility rules for other government programs also vary, often based upon the state where you work. Scan through the list to determine if you qualify to get paid while on FMLA under each qualifying reason.

  • Employees taking time off for their own health issue
    • Off-the-job accidents, illnesses, and pregnancy-related conditions
    • Occupational injuries and sickness that occur at work
  • Workers taking time off to care for another family member
    • Maternity leave and baby bonding
    • Care of seriously sick family member

State Disability

State temporary disability programs provide financial help while on FMLA to workers taking time away from the job due to their own medical condition. These state government programs replace a portion of income for most private workers, after satisfying a brief elimination period.

However, most people will not qualify.

  1. Only five states have a program: California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island
  2. Forty-five states do not offer programs covering temporary medical conditions
  3. The programs pay benefits only for the disabled worker
  4. They do not cover caring for a sick family member
  5. The policies cover non-occupational (off-the-job) illnesses and accidents only

Workers Compensation

Workers compensation provides financial help while on FMLA in the form of partial wage replacement, medical care, and other benefits for occupational incidents. Only workers injured or sickened on-the-job qualify.

All 50 states require employers to carry workers compensation insurance for most employees. Therefore, many people suffering occupational injuries and illnesses do get paid during FMLA. The wage replacement benefits are also tax-free. Therefore, the level of take-home pay is often better.

Keep in mind that workers compensation does not protect your job.1

Unemployment Compensation

Collecting unemployment compensation for financial help while on FMLA is not possible. The regulation protects your job during the time you are not working for up to twelve weeks. You remain employed without pay and do not meet all of the primary criteria to file for unemployment.

  • Physically able to work
  • Available for work
  • Actively seeking employment

Filing an unemployment claim after FMLA is sometimes a possibility for people who lose their job once their legal protections expire. This holds true only after you are able and available to return to the workforce, and if you work in certain states.

Twenty-two states permit people to collect unemployment benefits if they quit work for a good cause reason. Two FMLA-related reasons fit the criteria after they are able and available to resume working.

Paid Family Leave

The state paid family leave programs provide financial help while on FMLA for workers taking time away from the job to care for a sick family member or bond with a newborn baby. You receive a portion of your income for up to six weeks.

However, only 4 states offer paid family leave benefits in 2018.

  1. California
  2. New Jersey
  3. New York
  4. Rhode Island

The Washington State family leave insurance program comes online in 2019. However, nothing is in the legal queue for the remaining 45 states.

Food Stamps

People can sometimes qualify for Food Stamps during FMLA. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers nutrition support to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families.2

Federal and state governments jointly manage this public program. You must apply at your local state office to determine food stamps eligibility. They will consider these criteria.

  • Income amounts
  • Household size
  • Living expenses
  • Work requirements

Your hours worked drops during a leave of absence. The SNAP work requirement rules disqualify anyone who voluntarily reduces their hours. However, the rules provide special considerations for pregnant women and exempt people with physical or mental health limitations. Unfortunately, the guidelines do not address able-bodied caregivers.

Footnoted Sources:

  1. Workers Compensation
  2. Food Stamps
  3. Copyright: kurhan / 123RF Stock Photo

Posted 03/13/18 5:08 PM by Kevin Haney MBA