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Ask the HR Expert: Benefits & Compensation

Posted by NEHRA  December 10, 2010 09:00 AM

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Q. Do you have survey information regarding MA employers and the number of holidays they provide each calendar year?

A. The number of holidays can vary widely by industry, type of workforce (salaried, hourly), and may be influenced by other time off benefits offered (e.g., Paid Time Off (PTO) bank vs. separate Holiday, Vacation and Sick time; use of “floating” Holidays). In general, we see MA employers offering anywhere between 6 – 13 Holidays, with an average of 8 – 9.

JEFF ARNOLD

Q. I have recently moved to Boston and am employed with a very small firm (3 people). I have been with the company for 2 years and am now pregnant. With such a small company, there is no HR person or any stated benefits manual regarding maternity leave and short term disability. What is the minimum (by law) that I should expect from by employer (i.e. number of weeks off, - paid or unpaid, short term disability terms, etc.)? I expect I will not have paid time off yet, but what should I expect in terms of short term disability insurance? Thanks for your help.

A. While it is fairly common practice for larger employers to offer paid time off programs as well as short term and long term disability options, it is not required. For companies larger than 50 employees, the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any 12 month period for the birth of a child (as well as other specific family health related situations). Most employers appreciate the need for continuity and the retention of valuable, engaged employees. Therefore, I suggest that you speak with the owner or your supervisor (if this is a different person) to come to an understanding on a fair and equitable arrangement for your maternity leave.

JEFF ARNOLD



Q. If I was approved for 90% of my pay under Short Term Disability, does my company have to pay? What can I do if they refuse to pay, even if I was approved? I work in Massachusetts, but of corporate office is in Florida. Please advise...thanks.

A. If you feel you are being denied disability benefits you were previously approved for, you should talk to your employer to determine the reason that the disability claim is being denied. If your employer uses a third-party payer, such as an insurance company, you can contact the claim adjuster for information regarding the denial. If issue remains unresolved, you may want to seek legal counsel to help you review the claims(s) and take next steps.

PEGGY SHEEDY

Q. I am compensated by commission only, and I have no paid vacation or paid sick days. I am disabled and have to take intermittent time off to deal with my disability issues. My employer has now said that I must take FMLA and forfeit all my vacation and flex time in lieu of unpaid FMLA leave. I’m trying to understand how they can take away something they don't provide employees in the first place. Can they do this? I thought I was covered by the ADA for intermittent time off to care for my disability issues? Please advise.

A. Regardless of how an employee is compensated, the Federal Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) calls for any employee on leave under the acceptable terms of FMLA to be granted up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period. FMLA only applies to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employers with 15 or more employees. If you are covered under FMLA, you are not necessarily covered under ADA and vice-versa.

The employer must provide leave under whichever statutory provision provides the greater rights to you, the employee.

Under certain conditions, employees or employers may choose to “substitute” paid leave (such as sick or vacation leave) they have accrued to cover some or all of the FMLA leave. An employee’s ability to substitute accrued paid leave is determined by the terms and conditions of their employer’s normal leave policy.

PEGGY SHEEDY

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About NEHRA - The Voice of HR Featuring articles and resources for Human Resources / HR professional and hiring managers from the Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA).
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