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Can I start STD several days after birth of child? North Carolina

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  • Can I start STD several days after birth of child? North Carolina

    I am employed in NC and my employer allows for 6 weeks (really 5 after week waiting period) of paid STD through Liberty Mutual. Due to how I'm paid based on commission (and Q4 coming up), I really do *not* want to go out on maternity leave (STD) until after a certain date, April 15th. I'm due to have my child on April 10th. When I asked if I could delay starting my benefits, I was told "no". The representative from Liberty Mutual actually wasn't sure the answer and had to put me on hold while he asked someone. He said that disability *HAS* to start the day I give birth. He said I can start them early or end them early with no problem. This doesn't add up to me.

    I'm okay with starting them late and them deducting it from my maximum of 6 weeks. I don't expect them to delay everything, however, at this point I am looking at not taking STD at all because bonus checks will be that large that I will miss.

    Do places like Liberty Mutual have official policies on this? From what I read, FMLA doesn't have this type of requirement, so why would STD have it?

    Thank you in advance!

  • #2
    They are paying you so they get to make the rules. If the terms of the policy are that benefits have to start on the exact day (which is not even close to unreasonable, IMO) then that's what has to happen. They have to follow the contract - and so do you.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    • #3
      He said that disability *HAS* to start the day I give birth. He said I can start them early or end them early with no problem. This doesn't add up to me. You are eligible for STD benefits the day your doctor certifies that you are unable to work because of your pregnancy. For routine births, that often starts two weeks prior to the estimated delivery date. I expect that's what the insurance rep was referring to. Claimants don't just get to pick what day they want STD benefits to start and what day to start medical leave.

      The insurance carrier would be violating the terms of the insurance plan if they don't start paying you STD benefits (less any waiting period) from the first day you are medically disabled from working. At a minimum, that's the day you give birth.

      From what I read, FMLA doesn't have this type of requirement, so why would STD have it? Because these are two entirely separate issues. FMLA is a federal law that requires your employer to extend leave time under certain circumstances. STD (short term disability benefits) is the means by which you get paid while on medical leave.

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      • #4
        The purpose of the policy is to provide income replacement while you are medically unable to work. For routine births, that is 6 weeks postpartum. You don't get 6 weeks of benefits just for the heck of it. Six weeks after you deliver, you are considered no longer medically incapable of working though you may still be on leave to bond with the baby. It is no different than having a surgery with a 6 week recovery. The IC is not going to pay you on weeks 6-8 when you are no longer disabled even if you choose to defer those first 2 weeks.

        If you go out early for bedrest or false labor or because baby decides to arrive early, your qualification and therefore benefits would start with the first day you are medically unable to work, save the week waiting period.
        I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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        • #5
          Thank you for the replies. My main goal would be to "give up" the first week and take vacation, do the 7 day wait period for week 2, then be paid on the remaining 4 weeks.

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          • #6
            I take it that your STD plan only provides six weeks of benefits (which is possible but unusual - any STD plan I've ever seen pays up to 26 weeks, assuming the individual is medically disabled for that length of time.)

            I see no reason why you can't ask your employer for a week of vacation pay for the 7-day waiting period before STD benefits kick in. (The waiting period for STD benefits and the week of vacation can run concurrently.) They can refuse but I don't see any reason why they would.

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            • #7
              What Beth has described is quite common - using a week of PTO during the waiting week would work out more favorably to you than taking a week first and then starting the STD. Most employers are quite happy to work with you on that.
              The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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              • #8
                He said that disability *HAS* to start the day I give birth. He said I can start them early or end them early with no problem. This doesn't add up to me.

                You can start STD early (i.e., prior to the date of birth) because your doctor could conceivably put you on bedrest prior to the birth. It's not a voluntary thing, it would need to be coordinated with your doctor but the first day you can't work would be the STD, and that's not necessarily the actual date of birth. Likewise, you could end STD early - for example, if you had a surgery but recovered a lot faster than expected, and your doctor cleared you to work.

                using a week of PTO during the waiting week would work out more favorably to you than taking a week first and then starting the STD. Most employers are quite happy to work with you on that.

                My guess is that the OP doesn't want to do that, because even if she's on the 7-day waiting period using her vacation time, she is still technically on either approved FMLA or maternity leave, and her company policy and/or commission agreement probably says somewhere that they don't pay bonuses to people on leave for any reason, including medical. And you would have to be actively at work on 4/15 to get a commission. Am I right?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by J.J. Brown View Post

                  My guess is that the OP doesn't want to do that, because even if she's on the 7-day waiting period using her vacation time, she is still technically on either approved FMLA or maternity leave, and her company policy and/or commission agreement probably says somewhere that they don't pay bonuses to people on leave for any reason, including medical. And you would have to be actively at work on 4/15 to get a commission. Am I right?
                  You are absolutely correct. I have a question pending with HR to double check, but I was told that the day I started leave with Liberty Mutual was the day I stopped getting actual commission and it becomes paid based on On Target Earnings.

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                  • #10
                    Carriers can't sidestep the dates of treatment, surgery, or medical events like a birth. They have to kick in benefits on those dates. Mainly this is to aid the carrier and employer in coordinating all benefits, but it's also to give you complete protection and all rights that are accrued or allowed to you by law, policy, etc. You can't pick & choose when all of these rights start. They are effective on those dates.

                    If you are looking to be paid for your commission, look to your company policy and make sure it's spelled out in the commission agreement. If there is any flexibility, it would be there. If they have strictly followed the non-payment of commissions with all similarly-situated employees on leave, you may be out of luck.

                    In the meantime, best wishes to you & the little one.

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                    • #11
                      Your question depends more on how the commission plan is written than anything else. Even if they allow you to be paid via vacation time, if it comes at the beginning of a leave, they may consider that leave to have started on the first day you were out (assuming you didn't come back in between).

                      For example, that vacation time could still be counted against your FMLA leave entitlement. A lot is going to depend on company policy and written plans. STD/vacation etc is just how they are paying you during your timeoff -- those are just income replacement plans. It is often not the same as how they are classifying your timeoff. That is "leave" does not equal "STD".

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