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Pennsylvania STD Confusion

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  • Pennsylvania STD Confusion

    Sorry for the length of this post, but my situation is a bit complicated (at least to me).

    I have been working for my company (350+ employees) in PA for only 8 months. Over the past 2 months, I was frequently out sick and only recently received a diagnosis that requires physical therapy, medication trials, and no work for 4 weeks. I submitted doctors' notes for all my previous absences, and the company was very understanding. Since I cannot work during my 4 week recovery, my doctor filled out the STD forms that my HR department provided. However, I'm now getting conflicting information about filing for STD from my HR rep.

    1. I was told that the doctor should put down the "date" I first was sick (before I was diagnosed) on the STD forms. This was back in mid-December, but the last day I worked was January 3rd. HR also said that he has to fill out the FMLA forms in addition to the STD forms.

    2. After the doctor provides the "date," HR told me to add 4 weeks to it, and this will be when my Leave of Absence ends (I haven't even requested a leave of absence...) Due to the fact that I wasn't with the company for 12 months, I only receive 4 weeks of unpaid leave.

    3. HR said that I should write a resignation letter dated with my Leave of Absence end date and then apply for unemployment, because I will no longer qualify for STD since I won't be an employee. For example, if I was diagnosed December 15, my leave of absence will end January 15 (approx). Since there's a 15-day waiting period for STD, I will only get STD from January 1-15 (approx) --according to HR.

    4. According to my company's handbook "Employees needing a leave of absence and do not meet the eligibility criteria (work < 12 months), will be terminated and considered fo re-employment when released by their attending physician."

    I am confused by a few things. One, is it to my benefit to resign rather than be terminated? I'm not quite sure why HR is pushing me to resign when they can terminate me according to their handbook.

    Two, why does the doctor have to fill out the FMLA forms if he's filling out STD they work in tandem? Don't the STD forms cover my time off? I feel like I'm missing something...

    Lastly, does STD stop when I'm no longer employed by the company? I recently moved from NC, and a friend continued to receive STD even after she was laid off.

    If anyone can clarify, I would greatly appreciate it. I feel like HR isn't telling me everything, and I just want to do what's best for me while I recover. Thanks!

  • #2
    This isn't FMLA since you haven't been there a year. Any leave extended is up to the employer entirely. If that means you get 4 weeks from the first day out, that is what you get.

    Yes, they can require you to resign at the end of the LOA. Whether you get UC or not is up to the state.

    If STD is through the company, then you may not qualify once you are terminated. If it is through a private company, then it may.
    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.


    • #3
      It is EXTREMELY rare that an employee's STD benefits for a claim already started, are terminated when their employment does, however.

      For the record, STD is not time off. It is how you get paid while you are on medical leave.
      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.


      • #4

        Thanks so much for the quick responses to my looooong post.

        I guess my confusion is why HR is pushing me to take a leave and fill out the FMLA forms, when I haven't been there a year. If I understand cbg correctly, I need to take a medical leave (FMLA) and STD is how I'm paid?

        Here's my situation: I haven't been able to work since January 3rd, and I was seeing a specialist, getting tests done, etc. until I was diagnosed last week. Previous absences (there were several) had doctors' excuses, but we didn't know what was wrong at that time. The doctors have prescribed 4 weeks of physical therapy, meds, etc. Basically, I think my company is tired of my absences (which I can understand) and wants to replace me.

        However, it seems important to HR that I resign after a leave of absence rather than them terminating me while I'm on STD. Since I haven't been with them more than a year (and I think PA is a no-fault state), I thought they could end my employment at any time. What's the catch if I resign?

        Honestly, my health is more important to me than any job...I just want some financial assistance for 4 weeks while I recover. If my position is still available, fine...if not, I can always find another job. I just feel like HR isn't telling me everything, and I want to make sure I know what I'm agreeing to.

        As for STD, I'll call the provider and ask about coverage if I'm no longer employed with the company. I thought it sounded strange that STD ended if I lost my job.

        Again, thanks so much for the information. It's been very helpful!


        • #5
          You need to take a medical leave, but it will not be FMLA since you have not yet qualified. STD will be how you are paid.

          If the employer wants you to complete FMLA forms even though you do not qualify, there is nothing illegal about that. It may be for consistancy's sake; it may be that the FMLA forms contain all the information they require and they do not want to reinvent the wheel. If that's what they want you to do, do it. You will almost certainly need to complete separate forms for the STD. Don't be surprised.

          It may be that they want you to resign rather than be termed because of the potential impact on unemployment benefits. But that's only a guess. There is nothing forcing you to resign. If you don't want to, don't. If they want you gone badly enough, they'll term 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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