As of January 1, 2012, employers will be required to continue group health coverage for up to 4 months for female employees who take pregnancy disability leave (maternity leave). Currently, employers are only required to provide group coverage for up to 12 weeks while employees are on pregnancy leave.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) require employers to allow female employees to take up to 4 months of unpaid maternity leave for a “pregnancy-related condition.” The pregnancy disability leave is in addition to the 12 weeks of “maternity leave” which is allowed for parental bonding.
With the new law, employers must continue the healthcare benefits of an employee on leave for pregnancy disability for up to 4 months on the same terms and conditions as before the pregnancy leave. For example, if the arrangement was for a 50/50 split on the premium, that arrangement must continue for up to 4 months while the employee is on pregnancy disability leave.
Employers may, under specific circumstances, recoup premiums paid during employee’s leave if employee fails to return to work after leave.
TIP: Employers should review their leave policies to ensure compliance with the new law and that healthcare benefits continue for up to 4 months for employees on pregnancy disability leave.