Q: My Employer terminated my Health Insurance/Related Benefits after I returned from an unpaid FMLA.
I went on FMLA leave in November 2010, and returned February 2011. The time was completely unpaid, and I was unable to make my insurance premiums for that time period. I contacted our HR department by phone, and was told that my benefits would be suspended for non-payment after an elapsed time period, but once I returned to work I could continue my benefits with the standard payroll deduction. I asked if there was anything I needed to do to waive benefits during that time, and was told "no". In Mid-February AFTER I returned to work and received my first paycheck (all premium payments removed for the current pay period), I received written notice that my benefits had been termed as of January 31 for non-payment of premiums. The notice went to to say I was not eligible to re-enroll in any benefits (even with status change) until open enrollment in November 2011. I have since received additional paychecks where my premium payments WERE removed. Please advise?
A: Generally, while on FMLA leave, an employee will either have to continue making insurance premium payments by check, or will retroactively pay the premiums for the period of FMLA leave upon return. It sounds like upon your return, only prospective premium payments began being deducted again. Re-review any election forms your employer provided you and confirm how you elected to continue coverage. It sounds as if your employer is now enforcing salary withholding to pay the past due premiums.
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