I am now thoroughly confused...

We have someone preparing for FMLA leave for the birth of her child. She is scheduled to go on leave January 1. She has requested additional unpaid non-FMLA leave with a return date of June 18. (Approved, not a problem) She has informed us that she may not return on this expected return date because of childcare concerns. After reading her FMLA paperwork, she has requested that her benefits be terminated during her FMLA leave because she does not want to possibly be responsible for repaying her health insurance costs should she voluntarily decide to not return to work. In preparing to respond to her request, several issues have come to light with varying responses from various attorneys. Looking for any definites you might have.

1. Can we honor the employee's request (in writing) and discontinue her health benefits during an FMLA leave? (This is ok per our benefits contract). (It is our intention to educate the employee on the ramifications of this choice).

2. It has been brought to our attention by one attorney that Washington State law provides an additional 12-weeks leave (not to run concurrent with FMLA) for sickness or temporary disability due to pregnancy and that benefits are to be maintained by the employer during any such leave. Anyone in Washington have guidance in administering this? When does this begin? before or after the FMLA? When is the person disabled due to pregnancy? Does this apply when a normal birth after the birth? If so, for how long. Should I be getting a medical certification?

Thank you in advance.


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  • I'm not an attorney by any stretch of the imagination, but I do work in Washington and we have looked at the pregnancy disability issue.

    The way it was explained to me by the gurus in Olympia, if a person is pregnant and certified disabled, they are to be granted up to 12 weeks leave with benefits, based on their health care provider's statement. However, after 12 weeks, it becomes a regular disability and benefits can be cancelled.

    I would check with the State Human Rights Commission--they were very helpful when we were developing our pregnancy disability policy.

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