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Content Last Revised: 3/30/95

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Code of Federal Regulations Pertaining to U.S. Department of Labor

Title 29  



Chapter V  

Wage and Hour Division, Department of Labor



Part 825  

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993




Subpart B  

What Leave Is an Employee Entitled to Take Under the Family and Medical Leave Act?

29 CFR 825.209 - Is an employee entitled to benefits while using FMLA leave?

  • Section Number: 825.209
  • Section Name: Is an employee entitled to benefits while using FMLA leave?

    (a) During any FMLA leave, an employer must maintain the employee's 
coverage under any group health plan (as defined in the Internal Revenue 
Code of 1986 at 26 U.S.C. 5000(b)(1)) on the same conditions as coverage 
would have been provided if the employee had been continuously employed 
during the entire leave period. All employers covered by FMLA, including 
public agencies, are subject to the Act's requirements to maintain 
health coverage. The definition of ``group health plan'' is set forth in 
Sec. 825.800. For purposes of FMLA, the term ``group health plan'' shall 
not include an insurance program providing health coverage under which 
employees purchase individual policies from insurers provided that:
    (1) no contributions are made by the employer;
    (2) participation in the program is completely voluntary for 
    (3) the sole functions of the employer with respect to the program 
are, without endorsing the program, to permit the insurer to publicize 
the program to employees, to collect premiums through payroll deductions 
and to remit them to the insurer;
    (4) the employer receives no consideration in the form of cash or 
otherwise in connection with the program, other than reasonable 
compensation, excluding any profit, for administrative services actually 
rendered in connection with payroll deduction; and,
    (5) the premium charged with respect to such coverage does not 
increase in the event the employment relationship terminates.
    (b) The same group health plan benefits provided to an employee 
prior to taking FMLA leave must be maintained during the FMLA leave. For 
example, if family member coverage is provided to an employee, family 
member coverage must be maintained during the FMLA leave. Similarly, 
benefit coverage during FMLA leave for medical care, surgical care, 
hospital care, dental care, eye care, mental health
counseling, substance abuse treatment, etc., must be maintained during 
leave if provided in an employer's group health plan, including a 
supplement to a group health plan, whether or not provided through a 
flexible spending account or other component of a cafeteria plan.
    (c) If an employer provides a new health plan or benefits or changes 
health benefits or plans while an employee is on FMLA leave, the 
employee is entitled to the new or changed plan/benefits to the same 
extent as if the employee were not on leave. For example, if an employer 
changes a group health plan so that dental care becomes covered under 
the plan, an employee on FMLA leave must be given the same opportunity 
as other employees to receive (or obtain) the dental care coverage. Any 
other plan changes (e.g., in coverage, premiums, deductibles, etc.) 
which apply to all employees of the workforce would also apply to an 
employee on FMLA leave.
    (d) Notice of any opportunity to change plans or benefits must also 
be given to an employee on FMLA leave. If the group health plan permits 
an employee to change from single to family coverage upon the birth of a 
child or otherwise add new family members, such a change in benefits 
must be made available while an employee is on FMLA leave. If the 
employee requests the changed coverage it must be provided by the 
    (e) An employee may choose not to retain group health plan coverage 
during FMLA leave. However, when an employee returns from leave, the 
employee is entitled to be reinstated on the same terms as prior to 
taking the leave, including family or dependent coverages, without any 
qualifying period, physical examination, exclusion of pre- existing 
conditions, etc. See Sec. 825.212(c).
    (f) Except as required by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget 
Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA) and for ``key'' employees (as 
discussed below), an employer's obligation to maintain health benefits 
during leave (and to restore the employee to the same or equivalent 
employment) under FMLA ceases if and when the employment relationship 
would have terminated if the employee had not taken FMLA leave (e.g., if 
the employee's position is eliminated as part of a nondiscriminatory 
reduction in force and the employee would not have been transferred to 
another position); an employee informs the employer of his or her intent 
not to return from leave (including before starting the leave if the 
employer is so informed before the leave starts); or the employee fails 
to return from leave or continues on leave after exhausting his or her 
FMLA leave entitlement in the 12-month period.
    (g) If a ``key employee'' (see Sec. 825.218) does not return from 
leave when notified by the employer that substantial or grievous 
economic injury will result from his or her reinstatement, the 
employee's entitlement to group health plan benefits continues unless 
and until the employee advises the employer that the employee does not 
desire restoration to employment at the end of the leave period, or FMLA 
leave entitlement is exhausted, or reinstatement is actually denied.
    (h) An employee's entitlement to benefits other than group health 
benefits during a period of FMLA leave (e.g., holiday pay) is to be 
determined by the employer's established policy for providing such 
benefits when the employee is on other forms of leave (paid or unpaid, 
as appropriate).
[60 FR 2237, Jan. 6, 1995; 60 FR 16383, Mar. 30, 1995]
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