Q & A: Covering Benefits While Employees Are Out on Leave


Question Corner

Covering Benefits While Employees Are Out on Leave

By Jason R. Mau

Q: May we require our employees to use direct deposit? If so, what recourse do we have if an employee won’t provide his account’s routing number and other bank information?

A: Requiring employees to be paid by direct deposit is not allowed in Idaho, unless voluntarily authorized by the employee.  Therefore, you will have no recourse if an employee does not wish to provide account information.

Q: We have an employee who will be leaving for active duty for about one year. What are the requirements for continuing her benefits?

A: The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) provides the option for a service member performing more than 30 days of military duty to continue employer-sponsored health plan coverage.  However, depending on your employment policies, she can be required to pay for the full premium.

Q:  One of our employees is out on unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. What is the best way for him to pay his portion of benefit premiums since there is no paycheck from which we can deduct them? Should we require him to send us a personal check?

A: The FMLA regulations state that it is the sole responsibility of the employee to maintain benefit premiums which are not paid by an employer during unpaid leave. The regulations do not require any specific arrangement for payment.  However, if you do introduce a policy to require a certain payment method, you must provide prior written notice as part of the “rights and responsibilities” notice required by the FMLA. 

Q: We have a policy that states we will pay out accrued vacation time only if an employee leaves voluntarily and provides two weeks’ notice. Is this legal, or are we required to pay out accrued vacation even if the employee is fired or doesn’t provide adequate notice?

A: Idaho law does not require payment for earned vacation of private sector employees unless it was part of an employment contract.  Thus, you can pay out accrued vacation in accordance with your policy.

Jason R. Mau is an attorney with Greener Burke Shoemaker Oberrecht, P.A.  He can be reached at 208-319-2600 or jmau@greenerlaw.com.