Staff HR Policy D-721.01
Institutional Effectiveness Criterion: Culture

Short-Term Disability Procedure

Employees who are eligible as outlined in Policy D-721.00 may request this benefit.

The Short-Term Disability period will run concurrently with Family Medical Leave (FMLA) whenever an employee is eligible for FMLA due to their own serious health condition. Refer to Policy D-722.00 and Procedure D-722.01 for FMLA eligibility. Short-Term Disability is a benefit that pays the employee for time off that is unpaid under the FMLA regulations, based on their appointment percentage, and does not replace or circumvent FMLA.

This procedure attempts to address the most common situations for accidents and illness and how the Short-Term Disability benefit applies. 

Employees with a collective bargaining agreement will follow their agreement for specific guidelines and consult with their supervisor on questions pertaining to this procedure.

Initial Qualification For Short-term Disability:

Accident

  1. The employee may request to be paid under the Short-Term Disability provisions after missing work for one (1) day or a part of a work day due to a single serious health condition or injury caused by an accident.
  2. The employee or designee must complete, sign and submit the Short-Term Disability Employee Request Form to the Human Resources Office in order to be paid under this benefit.
  3. Under the Short-Term Disability provisions, the employee will be paid for the first work day missed due to a single serious health condition or injury caused by an accident. In order to qualify for Short-Term Disability, a medical certification is required. The employee must submit the medical certification to the Human Resources Office within 15 days of receiving the request form. If there are questions or the nature of the serious health condition or injury needs clarification, then NMC's physician will contact the employee's physician to determine if a second opinion is necessary. NMC reserves the right to require medical certification from NMC's physician. If the employee does not obtain the required certification within the 15-day period, their leave will be denied as defined by the Family Medical Leave Act.

Illness

  1. After an employee has been off work for 15 consecutive work days due to a single serious health condition due to illness, the employee may request to be paid under the Short-Term Disability provisions.
  2. The employee or designee must complete, sign and submit the Short-Term Disability Employee Request Form to the Human Resources Office in order to be paid under this benefit.
  3. The 15-day qualification period will be handled according to the following Short-Term Disability provisions.
  4. In order to qualify for Short-Term Disability, a medical certification is required. The employee must submit the medical certification to the Human Resources Office within 15 days of receiving the request form. If there are questions or the nature of the serious health condition or injury needs clarification, then NMC's physician will contact the employee's physician to determine if a second opinion is necessary. NMC reserves the right to require medical certification from NMC's physician. If the employee does not obtain the required certification within the 15-day period, their leave will be denied as defined by the Family Medical Leave Act.

The employee must be actively at work or on an approved leave day other than Short-Term Disability in order to qualify for Short-Term Disability.

A new Short-Term Disability period will not be approved for a new serious health condition unless the employee has been released to return to work from the original serious health condition. The employee must be at work for at least one full workday. All other qualifications as previously stated must be met.

Short-term Disability Pay

Short-Term Disability will provide pay for the balance of a total of 180 calendar days (including weekends) based on the employee's appointment percentage after the initial qualification period has been met.

Pay Schedule

  1. During the qualification period of Day 1 through Day 15, leave balances will be used until exhausted, in the following order:
    1.  Sick time balance accrued prior to the start of the leave
    2. Vacation time balance accrued prior to the start of the leave
    3. If, during the qualification period, sick and vacation leave balances are exhausted, the remaining time will be treated as unpaid leave.
  2. Day 16 through Day 60 will be paid at 100% of base pay
  3. Day 61 through Day 180 will be paid at 66.67% of base pay
  4. Sick or vacation leave may not be used to make up the remainder of the base pay on Days 61-180.
  5. Leave time will be reported to MPSERS according to their guidelines. Employees do not accrue MPSERS service hours while on Short-Term Disability.  Employees may purchase lost service hours by contacting the State of Michigan Office of Retirement Services.

Continuing Certification Required

  1. A minimum of one additional certification will be required from the employee’s physician or NMC's physician when the employee has been off work for 12 work weeks. Certification may be required every 30 days in order to continue pay under this policy, depending on the circumstances of the accident/illness. NMC reserves the right to require medical certification from NMC’s physician. Additional certifications may be required from the employee's personal physician. NMC will pay expenses or any deductible and co-pay, after health plan coverage for required certifications. No additional expenses will be paid by NMC.
  2. Based on the additional certification, if the duration of the absence is anticipated to be continued beyond the 12-week FMLA period, the College reserves the right to fill the employee's position or determine if it will remain open.
  3. Based on the duration of the anticipated absence as outlined in the additional certification, applications for Long Term Disability and MPSERS Retirement Disability (if applicable) should be started. This process may change if the duration of the anticipated absence changes.

Employee's Responsibility

  1. After requesting Short-Term Disability pay, the employee will obtain medical certification from their physician or NMC's physician within 15 days of receiving the request form. NMC reserves the right to require medical certification from NMC’s physician.
  2. During the Short-Term Disability period, it is the employee's responsibility to contact the FMLA administrator in the Human Resources Office at least once every two weeks regarding their fitness for duty or intention to return to work. Failure to comply may result in time without pay.
  3. When practical the employee will give 30 days’ notice of their intent to return to work.
  4. The employee will be required to provide fitness for duty certification from the physician.

Short-Term Disability pay may be denied if the employee does not satisfy these requirements.

Return To Work

  1. If the employee returns to work for a period of:
    1. Less than 30 calendar days, before the maximum benefit of 180 days is paid out, the qualification period will be waived for future time that is consecutively taken off related to the same illness/injury. The original 180-day period will resume.
    2. More than 30 calendar days but less than 180 days before the maximum benefit of 180 days is paid out, the 15-day qualifying requirement for illness will be waived for future time that is consecutively taken off related to the same illness/injury. The original 180-day period will resume.
    3. More than 180 days a new Short-Term Disability qualification period will begin.
    4. For items a through c above, another medical certification will be required according to provisions under “Continued Certification Required.” NMC reserves the right to require medical certification from NMC’s physician.
  2. When the employee returns to work and needs to take time off intermittently for the original illness/injury for follow up appointments, such as: physical therapy, Short-Term Disability will end.  The employee will then follow Procedure D-720.01.
  3. NMC requires the employee to provide a fitness for duty certification including any restrictions and the duration of the restrictions. If the employee returns to work and requires accommodation to perform their job due to the serious health condition or injury, the employee must contact the Office of Human Resources to request accommodation according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  4. The employee must  provide a fitness for duty certification to return to work.
  5. When the employee returns to work, job placement will be as follows:
    1. If the leave qualified for FMLA and the 12-week period has not expired, placement will be made in the same or an equivalent job according to FMLA standards.
    2. If the leave qualified for FMLA and the employee has been out past the 12- week period, every effort will be made to return the employee to the same or an equivalent position, however, there is no guarantee of placement or continuing employment.
    3. If the leave did not qualify for FMLA, every effort will be made to return the employee to the same or an equivalent position, however, there is no guarantee of placement or continuing employment.
  6. If an employee is found to have fraudulently obtained Medical Certification to qualify for FMLA and/or Short-Term Disability the employee will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Employees found working outside of NMC while they are restricted from working under Medical Certification and are on FMLA and/or Short-Term Disability the employee will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Applicable Benefits

All applicable benefits shall continue to apply including wage and hour reporting for retirement, except the following:

  1. Sick leave will not accrue during Short-Term Disability.
  2. Vacation leave will not accrue during Short-Term Disability.

If the employee returns to work less than full-time sick and vacation leave will accrue at the rate of actual hours worked.

This policy supersedes Procedure D-722.01. All provisions of Procedure D-722.01 regarding leave balances apply except as stated under the Applicable Benefits section above.

If the employee is not released to work upon completion of the total 180 days of absence

  1. Regular pay will not resume.
  2. Faculty who have chosen to have their contract paid over 26 pays will have the earnings over the 180-day period calculated, including the corresponding deferred pay amount, and this prorated amount will be paid out.
  3. After the 180 days, and all accrued leave has been paid out, if the employee is unable to return to work, employment will be terminated unless there is assurance in writing from the employee's health care provider that the employee will be able to return to work within a reasonable period of time.

The College maintains the right to administer this procedure according to the requirements listed and to terminate pay if the employee does not comply with these requirements.

If any provisions(s) of this policy or set of bylaws conflicts with laws applicable to Northwestern Michigan College, including the Community College Act of 1966, the Freedom of Information Act, or the Open Meetings Act, as each may be amended from time to time, such laws shall control and supersede such provisions(s).

Authorized as 1436.01 on 11/21/01
Renumbered 7/27/10
Revised 7/20/12
Revised 5/10/13
Revised 6/24/14
Revised February 24, 2017

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