The Mailbag.

PositionLetter to the editor

Can we recover health insurance premiums if ill employee doesn't return to work?

Q One of our employees is taking leave under the FMLA. The company is continuing to pay the same portion of her health insurance premiums that was paid while she was working. She's having lingering medical problems, as is her newborn child. If she does not to return to work, may we recover any of the premiums we paid?

A Probably not. Under the FMLA, an employer may not recapture premiums paid for maintaining an employee's group health plan coverage during periods of unpaid leave if the worker fails to return to work due to circumstances beyond his or her control or circumstances that would otherwise entitle the employee to leave under the FMLA.

However, an employer can require an employee to provide certification of his or her serious health condition, the serious health condition of his or her family member or the injury or illness of a covered service member if that is the reason that the employee cannot return to work.

So, if the employee is having significant lingering medical problems or her child has serious health problems, the employer cannot recover premiums paid if the employee does not return to work.

Recovering health insurance premiums: What if employee simply elects not to return?

Q We have an employee on FMLA leave who has been telling co-workers that she loves staying home with her infant and probably won't be coming back to work. We're paying her health premiums and would like to know if we can recoup them if she does not return to work.

A An employer "may require the employee to repay the employer's share of the premium payment if the employee fails to return to work following the FMLA leave unless the employee does not return because of circumstances that are beyond the employee's control."

Thus, you may be able to recoup...

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