Medical/Sick Leave of Absence and Unemployment Benefits

woman-687560_1280Can an employee leave work claiming sickness and qualify for unemployment benefits? Our employee was pregnant and quit, then had her baby. She now wants her job back. Do we have to rehire her?

A sick, injured or pregnant employee can qualify for unemployment benefits when:

  • The employee leaves work on the advice of a licensed, practicing physician.
  • Upon recovery — certified by a licensed, practicing physician — the employee returns and offers his or her service to you but no work is available. Or you refuse to rehire.

A pregnant employee — or an employee claiming sickness or injury — who leaves the job without the advice of a physician is considered a voluntary quit and is not qualified for unemployment.

Point: An employee can’t simply leave work claiming illness, and qualify for unemployment benefits after recovering.

NOTE: If the Family & Medical Leave Act applies to your workplace or if your state law requires you to give employees pregnancy and maternity leave, you may have an obligation to return the employee to work. If work is not available, the employee in most instances would qualify for unemployment.


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