Welcome to a step-by-step guide of what you might expect when going out on leave. Before we outline the general steps you might expect when taking a leave of absence, let's define some key terms that are important in fully understanding your benefits.
Paid Benefits vs. Job Protected Benefits
Disability Benefits – Paid benefits that only apply during a period when you are unable to work due to personal injury or illness, including pregnancy and childbirth. The payee could be your employer, a private disability vendor, or a federal or state entity. Usually, Disability Benefits are not job-protected, with the exception of a few state paid family and medical leave laws, but they may run in conjunction with a job-protected leave benefit.
Paid Family Leave Benefits – Paid benefits that apply during a period when you are taking a leave of absence to care for a qualifying sick family member, to bond with a new child, or in some cases for military exigency. The payee could be your employer or a state entity. Usually Paid Family Leave Benefits are not job-protected, with the exception of a few state paid family and medical leave laws, but they may run in conjunction with a job-protected leave benefit.
Job Protected Leave Benefits – Benefits that safeguard your employment while you are on a qualifying leave of absence from work. They may also mandate continuation of your company's health insurance. They are usually unpaid, but can sometimes be both paid and job-protected. These could be guaranteed under federal, state or local law for eligible employees, or they can be provided by your employer.
Step 1: Create your LeaveLogic account.
If you need assistance creating your account, please reference the following article: New User Guide: Setting up your LeavePlan. Using the information you enter during profile set-up, LeaveLogic will provide a visualization of your estimated potential benefits via the Dashboard tab. You will be able to read and learn about these potential benefits by clicking the specific benefit bar, or by going to the Benefits tab. There is also a Task List found under the LeavePlan tab that will walk you through the actions you need to take to plan for, request, take and return from your leave of absence.
Step 2: Each employer has a different process for going out on leave. Please review your employer’s specific leave of absence resources within your Employee Handbook. If you begin in LeaveLogic, these processes will likely be captured within LeaveLogic under your LeavePlan tab.
Step 3: File your leave of absence request with your employer or your employer’s third party leave administrator (as applicable) 30-60 days prior to your anticipated leave, if possible. If not, submit your request as soon as you become aware of your need for leave.
Step 4: Paperwork will be required to process your leave of absence. The type of paperwork depends on the type of leave you are taking. Below is a basic outline of what you can generally expect to submit to your employer and/or any applicable leave benefit vendors or administrators.
Type of Leave: Personal Medical/Pregnancy Disability/Caregiver Leave (caring for a sick family member)
Certification of Health Care Professional: This is a federal form that is used to approve FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and other applicable state leave of absence benefits. This form will be provided by your employer or their leave administrator and is to be completed by your physician. With your permission, a leave administrator may send this form to your physician directly. Some states, such as California, have their own variations of this form because their leave approval criteria are less stringent than FMLA.
Attending Physician Statement: A form completed by the physician providing requested medical information used to approve disability and/or leave benefits.
Authorization Form and/or Permission to Contact Form:
Authorization Form: This form signed by the patient allows their physician to release confidential medical information to their employer’s third party leave administrator or disability vendor. Medical information is required for the leave administrator or vendor to approve initial and ongoing benefits.
Permission to Contact Form: A form signed by the patient giving the leave administrator or disability vendor permission to contact his or her physician to clarify and/or confirm information disclosed within the Certification of Healthcare Professional form.
Type of Leave: Bonding/Placement/ Foster Care/ Adoption/Military
Proof of birth: A form completed by a physician or other healthcare provider (i.e. midwife) certifying the birth of a child. This form should be provided by your leave administrator, or you may also be able to use an official birth certificate or other specified documentation as proof of birth
State and/or court documents confirming the placement of a child.
Court documents confirming the placement of a child.
Official Military Orders from a federal or state entity
Step 5: After your leave of absence has been filed, look for your initial leave packet from your employer or their leave administrator outlining your eligibility of benefits, advising of information needed, as well as the due date for the information to be received. This packet should contain any forms that need to be completed, as well as your rights and responsibilities.
Step 6: Be aware - Disability benefits, specifically, are generally approved in blocks of time requiring ongoing medical information for continued approval. Leave administrators evaluate the medical documentation (treatment plan, rate of recovery) to determine when you have the ability to return to work at some level of capacity.
An example of this: If your physician certifies you out of work for 6 months initially, this does not mean that your disability benefits will automatically be approved for 6 months. There will be a time frame for submitting additional medical documentation to continue your disability benefits beyond the current approved through date. To prevent delays, if you will need an extension of benefits beyond your approved through date, it is recommended that you take the most recent approval letter from your leave administrator or disability vendor to the physician’s appointment with you. This will advise your physician on what medical information is needed to review for an extension of your disability benefits.
Step 7: Some leave benefits offer the option to take leave intermittently. Intermittent leave is most commonly taken for chronic health conditions that flare up or require scheduled treatments, or for bonding time with a new child. In most states, it is your employer’s option whether or not to allow bonding time intermittently. Please keep your employer or their third party leave administrator informed of your intermittent leave dates, if applicable.