If I can no longer work, should I quit or use any FMLA or PTO?
Before asking yourself this question, take a step back and identify why it is that you can no longer work. Possibilities include health conditions that result from work-related injuries, personal health conditions that are not the result of work injuries, or health conditions of a family member.
There are a plethora of benefits that may be available to your when you are unable to work for one of the reasons stated above. As a general matter, do not quit your job before talking to an attorney because quitting your job may cut off your entitlement to some benefits that could be available to you.
Family and Medical Leave Act Benefits
For instance, if your health condition will only keep you out of work temporarily, you may be eligible for a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows an employee to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave in a twelve-month period if the employee cannot work due to a health condition.
The primary benefit of FMLA is that it protects your job while you are away. An employee may also be eligible for FMLA if the employee has a newborn child, or if the employee has a family, member (child, spouse, or parent) with a serious health condition. Employees can inquire about FMLA by speaking to a supervisor or human resources personnel.
Short Term Disability or Long Term Disability Benefits
If you cannot work due to a personal health condition, you may be eligible for Short Term Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. Like the situation described above, if you condition is temporary and you intend to return to work, don’t quit your job.
Inquire with your employer about whether or not you are eligible for Short Term Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. You could collect disability benefits for a period of time and then return to work when you are medically able. You may be eligible for Short Term Disability or Long Term Disability benefits if you have paid into an employer-sponsored disability plan similar to the way you might pay for employer-sponsored health insurance.
Private Disability Insurance
Alternatively, some employees seek private disability insurance (i.e. not employer-sponsored). If you have Short Term Disability or Long Term Disability benefits, you may prefer to use those benefits over your hard-earned PTO days.
However, many Short Term Disability or Long Term Disability policies have “waiting” or “elimination periods” where you must be disabled from working for up to thirty days (or more) before collecting Short Term Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you cannot get by without income for the “waiting” period, you may want to use PTO time so that you have income during that period.