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Disability leave

The Americans with Disabilities Act  (ADA) requires employers with 15 or more workers to provide a leave of absence or other reasonable accommodation to workers whose physical or mental impairments limit them in major life activities. The ADA also requires short-term disability leave for workers experiencing a severe but temporary disability or health condition that leaves them unable to perform the essential functions of their roles.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also outlines requirements for granting leave to employees. Employers covered by the FMLA must provide workers who have been with the organization for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours with up to 12 weeks of sick leave per year for circumstances including:

  • Birth, adoption, or foster care of a child
  • Providing care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • Medical leave due to a serious health condition

Depending on the state, both ADA and FMLA leave may be used in combination with leave provisions outlined in worker’s compensation guidelines. Both ADA and FMLA regulations require that employees be allowed to return to work in their previous roles at the end of their leave periods.

Human resources teams often play a large role in developing strategies and processes surrounding disability benefits. That might include coordinating both short- and long-term disability insurance benefits and related health insurance considerations such as long-term care, supplemental policies, and patient navigators.

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