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Can employer apply STD as FMLA? California

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  • Can employer apply STD as FMLA? California

    Greetings - my wife is a type 1 diabetic and recently gave birth to our first child. During the pregnancy, her endocrinologist did not want her at work due to her diabetes and the pregnancy. The state approved her short term disability but her employer said that since they considered her diabetes to be "controlled" they denied STD but approved the leave under FMLA.
    If her doctor was concerned for her health and the babies health, can her employer make the judgment call to deny STD?

  • #2
    STD is not leave; it is how you get paid when you are on leave. The STD policy itself will determine what the eligibility criteria are and when it can be denied.
    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
      Is this really an employer funded plan or just a plan the employer pays for? I'd be surprised if the employer is the one making the call on what is and is not covered. Just like cbg said, it is not leave, nor is it like sick leave or vacation leave. STD covers only in the event of a true disability which means more than just off work. If she were bed ridden, the likelihood it would be covered is greater than if her only restrictions is not working.
      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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      • #4
        Ok, so I may not be completely clear on how STD works. Her employer said that short term disability was denied but she was approved for FMLA. She is receiving disability benefits from the state. So, what I'm trying to determine is, is there other job protection rights with STD?
        Also, her Dr wrote her off because, due to the pregnancy, her blood sugar levels were uncontrolled. There were other reasons that he felt she shouldn't be working for her and the babies safety.

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        • #5
          STD provides no job protection rights whatsoever. FMLA does, but STD does not.
          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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          • #6
            Ok, it all makes perfect sense now. Thank you so much for the clarification.

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            • #7
              In Ca., if a pregnant employee qualifies for them (or any of them), she can have job protection under PDL (pregnancy disability leave), CFRA (Ca. Family Rights Act) & FMLA.
              There is no job protection for STD or SDI (state disability ins.) - it is just income while off work & disabled.

              PFL (pd. family leave) also offers no job protection. (pays when off for bonding leave - might have job protection at that time under CFRA)
              Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

              Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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              • #8
                Ok. So with everything combined, is the maximum allowable protected time off 18 weeks?

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                • #9
                  This is how it works in Ca. "if/when" a pregnant employees qualifies for all
                  available leaves (PDL, FMLA, CFRA)

                  It's possible for an employee to get up to 7 mos. of job protected pregnancy leave in Ca. though all women will not qualify for the total 7 mos.:
                  In Ca. most female employees can take up to 4 mos. of leave for childbearing & pregnancy related disability (subject to med. certification that an actual disability exists) under the Fair Employment & Housing Act. The fed. FMLA & the state act are generally in alignment except in Ca. a woman can take a 4-mo. pregnancy disability leave followed by a 3-mo. fam. med. leave. This is the rare circumstance when leave under the FMLA & Ca. Fam. Rights Act don't run concurrently--FMLA leave will run concurrently with the 4-mos. of pregnancy disability leave, after which the Fam. Rights Act can be invoked for an add'l. 3-mo. leave. (for bonding)

                  An employee will not get the total 4 mos. of PDL (pregnancy disability leave) unless they are disabled for 4 mos. Also for FMLA & CFRA the requirements for them must be met. Ca. employees are entitled to leave under PDL regardless of the length of employment or hours worked. Most employers with 5 or more employees are subject to PDL.

                  While off on disability, an employee should get Ca. SDI (state disability insurance) to get paid while off on disability.
                  The PFL (paid family leave) pays employee while off on bonding leave.
                  (SDI & PFL are not leaves but income you get when out on leave.)
                  Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                  Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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                  • #10
                    Thank you for the information, Betty. Since you seem to be very well educated regarding this matter, can you please provide me with your thoughts on how my wife's employer is handling her pregnancy and job protected time off? Please keep in mind that my wife and I both work for the same employer. As such, I believe that we have to split the CFRA time (12 weeks) for bonding.

                    Again, my wife is a type 1 diabetic and has been for 20 years. When she became pregnant, she was having difficulties managing her diabetes. Her Dr. wanted her to not work during at all during the pregnancy to ensure her health and the health of the baby were not compromised. My wife agreed and decided to take some time off, but did not want to be out of work for the entire pregnancy.

                    So, here is a breakdown of the dates:
                    First leave: 3/24/14 - 5/27/14 (9 weeks - PDL)
                    Second leave: 9/11/14 - 10/16/14 (5 weeks - PDL/CFRA)
                    Birth (C-Section): 10/17/14 -- Employer states that she must return on 12/12/14 (7.8 weeks - PDL/CFRA)
                    Total time off - 22 weeks

                    The employer called my wife's Dr. and spoke with the office manager who, unlawfully, provided information regarding my wife's diabetes. Based on the information received, the employer made the decision that my wife could work and was not eligible for any additional time off under PDL.

                    Who makes the determination if it was safe for my wife to work during the pregnancy, the employer or her Dr?
                    The employer applied CFRA before the delivery date and is also applying that to her C-section recovery time and therefore does not have the 6 weeks available for bonding after her recovery. Is this a legal practice?

                    Thank you for your time and input on this.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      quote--> " The employer called my wife's Dr. and spoke with the office manager who, unlawfully, provided information regarding my wife's diabetes"


                      HIPAA (health privacy laws) do not apply to ADA/FMLA situations, but I am not sure how California deals with the privacy under CFRA or PDL. Generally the employer though has the right to question the doctor if the paperwork provided by the employee is unclear. How else would they be able to decide whether the leave fell under the reasons given for the law? Not everything one considers a "disability" will fall under the definition in either the state's plan or the employer/employee's plan.

                      I also suspect that the paperwork for disability and/or leave gives the employer the right to ask questions of the physician. And it would not surprise me if your wife hadn't signed something at the doctor's office when she turned in any paperwork that the doctor had to fill out.

                      I know all of our paperwork for leave/disability has that type of language.

                      Was the employer willing to make reasonable accommodations to allow for your wife to work while managing her diabetes? Such that she could do both? If so, they don't have to allow the time off.
                      Last edited by hr for me; 11-26-2014, 11:40 AM.

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                      • #12
                        The documentation provided by her doctor was sufficient enough for the state to approve STD, not sure what more the employer would require.
                        She did provide minimal consent to request medical records from the Dr, not the office manager.

                        I'm really trying to make sure that all bases are covered here because our employer is out of state and has proven to be quite uneducated on the specific laws as they apply to CA employees.

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                        • #13
                          I've never heard consent to be split between the doctor and anyone in the doctor's office, but could be wrong. When I give consent for the doctor, I have assumed it applies to the doctor, nurses, office manager and anyone answering any questions for the benefit of the doctor's office. Personally I think that is not a battle you will fight and win. Instead I would focus on whether your wife met the standard for disability on the different dates.

                          STD standards for a state disability can be different than an employer-sponsored plan since the employer is offering the coverage and there are different levels. Not sure if the employer stated she no longer had PDL or whether it was private coverage.

                          Bonding is not considered on the disability claim, only on the family leave part. Maybe I am confused on when she was on disability and when she was on protective leave. Generally disability for a C-section is a max of 8 weeks unless your wife and her doctor can document she still had a disability after the end of the 7.8 weeks. Did the doctor fill out paperwork that she was still disabled after that 8 weeks due to the pregnancy?

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                          • #14
                            Susan, this is your second warning. You are already suspected of being a spammer. The next time I see you responding to a dead thread (this one has been dead for well over a year), your account will be suspended.
                            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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                            • #15
                              Definitely looks like a probable spammer with a link in the post.
                              Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                              Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                              Comment

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