California has many laws protecting a person when they become sick or cannot physically work due to a disability. When a worker is injured or becomes sick in the workplace, they are protected under California’s disability laws. Would an employer be able to fire, or not pay an employee’s disability benefits for being sick or being disabled?

According to California law, employers may not retaliate against employees if they have become ill or have a disease.

How much can an employee make from disability benefits?

Calculating a person’s disability benefits could be done by looking at an employer’s policy. The employer will typically pay out 50%-80% of an employee’s pre-disability earnings. An employee’s pre-disability earnings consist of one’s monthly earnings before they had become disabled. These policies could also include things like overtime, bonuses, and commission. The policy typically has a maximum which can range between $4,000 to $25,000 per month. These payments also are increased 1%-3$ per year, to adjust to the price of the cost of living.

Who do the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) help?

The ADA covers a multitude of people with different ranges of disabilities. The ADA also protects people from not being hired from a job based on their disability. The ADA also requires that there are reasonable accommodations to the disabled employee, to the point where it does not cause harm to the employer.

Since the start of 2021, the governor has implemented new laws to help employees who have contracted COVID-19 and employees who have become sick. Employees must let their employer know within one day once they have tested positive for COVID-19. The new law allows for the employee to receive paid time off for two weeks until the employee has tested negative for coronavirus. This new law is in place for employers with 500 or more employees.

Who is defined as ‘disabled?’ Those who have a mental or physical disability, hearing or sight impairment, or even someone who the employer believed to have a disability, but really didn’t. That employer would be covered under the ADA. Only qualified employers are able to be covered under the ADA. This means that if a person is able to work with their disability, they would be protected under the ADA. If a person is in such a severe state that they may not work, they would not be covered under the ADA.

Collecting Social Security benefits in California

When applying for long term disability (LTD) benefits, an employee must file for Social Security benefits as well. This is because social security benefits may offset one’s monthly payment. For example, if an employee was meant to receive $2,000 a month from their LTD, and had been approved for $1,700 from social security, the employee would receive $300 from their insurance company.

Can an employee return to work and still receive disability benefits?

In most cases, no. The employee would not be entitled to receive disability payments, as the insurance company would presume that the employee is no longer disabled if they’re working. The insurance company would either slowly reduce monthly payments, or completely cut off disability benefits once the employees start to work.

What qualifies as a short term disability?

Any time a doctor has certified in writing that an employee cannot physically continue their work, that employee is considered ‘disabled.’ Women who are pregnant are given short term disability benefits, which typically last two to four weeks before the pregnancy, and four to six weeks after childbirth. Elective surgeries are also covered under this disability, as long as the doctor certifies that the employee is unable to work.

Collecting short term disability benefits in California

An employee would receive around 60%-70% of their base period pay. The employer is supposed to average the two months where an employee has earned the most money, and base the 60%-70% from there. There is a maximum of earning $1,300 per week.

Can an employee receive benefits for having COVID-19?

California has announced new rules and regulations regarding employees who have been in contact or are sick with COVID-19. If an employee is unable to work due to having COVID-19 or are being exposed to it, that employee is medically qualified for short term disability payments. Forms must be completed and filled, and a doctor must verify that all the information the employee had written is accurate. An employee taking care of someone with COVID-19 is covered under these new laws. Once a doctor has verified that an employee has coronavirus, that employee would immediately be able to collect disability benefits and would not have to wait a week like others collecting disability benefits.

What if an employee is taking care of a family member with COVID-19?

That employee should file for paid family leave. If they are taking care of sick family members, it would be smarter for the employee to file for paid family leave. Collecting paid family leave is easier to achieve rather than receiving short term disability benefits.

What to do if an employee has been denied short term disability benefits?

The employee should consider filing for unemployment benefits. If the employee is working from home and has had their hours drastically reduced, that employee may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits. An employee may not collect both short term disability benefits and unemployment benefits at the same time.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one has retaliated against for having a disability, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.