The unique circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic altered many of the normal guidelines for offering coverage to employees not actively at work. The terms leave of absence, FMLA, furlough, temporary layoff and permanent layoff have been blurred in regards to treatment of coverage continuation. Many insurers announced options for allowing employees on layoff to remain on the employer benefit plans for extended periods of time.
A very common question from our clients over the past few weeks is “When do we move these employees to COBRA?”. The answer is complicated and is determined based on the reasons the employee is not actively at work. Under the FFCRA emergency paid leave and family and medical expanded leave rules, an employee is treated as actively at work with coverage offerings continuing through the leave. An employee on furlough or layoff can either be left on the plan according to insurer COVID-19 continuation announcements or offered COBRA at any time.
We strongly recommend that employers communicate any change in coverage offering and provide ample notice to employees in order to secure alternate means of coverage.