Can an employer legally cancel their contribution to health insurance premiums after an accident?

My father works for a small grain company that is not covered by FMLA, unfortunately. He was in an accident 05/07 not work related where his pelvis was broken in-half resulting in surgery and now being wheel chair bound for awhile. My dad found out that on 05/08 his employer he was still in the hospital until May 12 effectively cancelled their contribution to his premiums and he is now being told he must not only pickup the monthly cost until he returns but he must all back-pay 3 months of full cost premiums, $1500. Is there anything that protects an employee of a small employer? This speaks

boldly to the company’s lack of commitment to their employees, kind of one of those let me kick you while you’re still down. Are there any legal remedies?

Asked on June 27, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, the law does not require employers to keep paying the employer share of health insurance premiums when an employee is out of work, unless the employee was eligible for and  used FMLA leave. (If he did, FMLA protects him.) This may seem unfair, but look at it from the employer's point of view: why should they pay the cost of employee health insurance, something they pay in exchange for the work which employees do for them, when someone is not working or contributing to the company? Your father is not working and so would not get the compensation he normally receives for working. (E.g. he is presumably not receiving his salary/wages while not working; employer-paid health insurance premiums are part of his salary/wages.)  So the employer can require your father to pay his share of benefits, and to also repay any amounts the company paid for him while he was not working.


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