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July 26, 2022
Q&A: What To Do About Group Benefits for Employees Who Can No Longer Work

by Meaghan E. Murphy

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Question:  We have an employee who has been out on workers’ compensation for over a year now. Because he hasn’t worked for so long, is he still eligible to participate in our group benefits plan?

Answer:  Unless there’s a collective bargaining agreement or an individual employment contract that requires it, you don’t have to hold a job open or continue to allow an employee to participate in group benefits plans if they are unable to work due to an on-the-job injury.

But in most cases, health insurance benefits will continue for 30 days following a termination, and many employers are required to comply with COBRA or their state’s mini-COBRA laws (including MA), which require you to offer continued health insurance benefits for a specific period. (The employee can be required to pay the entire group rate premium for this continued coverage.)

Notably, however, the medical treatment that is reasonably related to the on-the-job injury must continue to be covered by your workers’ comp insurer regardless of whether the employee continues to be employed or continues to participate in your group benefits plans.

Meaghan E. Murphy is an associate at the firm of Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C., in Springfield, Massachusetts. Murphy regularly advises clients on various workplace issues, including discipline and performance issues, policy development and implementation, and compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations. You can reach her at 413-737-4753 or mmurphy@skoler-abbott.com.

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