Much of the discussion about disability in the workplace revolves around the 61 million adults in the United States that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classify as disabled. It is a significant portion of the population (about one in four Americans). And despite the fact that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been in place for almost 30 years, most companies are still behind in creating inclusive workplaces for people with disabilities.
Although there is still a lot of work to be done for people with disabilities, another group is fighting a different battle: those with aisabilities. According to Simply Insurance, nearly 6% of Americans suffer from a short-term disability each year, and about 40% of those people will have their disability insurance claims turned down. This may be in part because it is difficult to navigate what is considered short-term disability and who has the right to be absent from work.
There are a lot of limitations
Short-term disability is an insurance benefit that typically provides a fraction of your income (about 50% to 60%) for a limited time (usually up to about six months). It is designed to cover a non-work-related injury or illness that renders a person unable to work. (If an injury occurs at work, it should be covered by workers’ compensation, do not short-term disability).
The catch is, most employers aren’t required to provide short-term disability coverage (there are only five states where it’s mandatory: California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode. Island). But many employers choose to offer coverage because they receive a federal tax deduction if they do.
The complex battle of what “matters”
Generally speaking, there is no standard definition for short term disability, which can make things really difficult for workers.
The general parameters are that a short-term disability is something that makes a person unable to do their job, such as pregnancy or childbirth, major surgery, or illness or accident that requires frequent treatment. But since there are so many gray areas, many people find themselves unable to work but struggle to try to keep their jobs and keep some of their income.
Take the example of pregnancy and childbirth. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act 1978 prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. But if someone is kicked out for promotion or demoted or fired, it can be a long, costly and often losing process for an employee to prove that the pregnancy or birth itself was the reason. For an example of what the process looks like, read Pavithra Mohan’s interview with Chelsey Glasson who sued Google for pregnancy-related discrimination last year.
Since the United States still does not have paid parental leave, many women try to use short-term disability coverage to tie in maternity leave, but it also comes with complications. Again, it depends on the individual business plan. Many plans offer different periods of leave for a vaginal birth versus a cesarean, and some employers exclude maternity leave from their short-term disability plan altogether.
This is all perfectly legal as long as a company does not outright tell an employee that they are fired because they gave birth. A business may require a woman to return to work when she is technically physically capable, although this may still be unsanitary for her.
What about COVID-19?
Mohan also reported on the small but growing number of âlong-haulâ COVID-19: people who show symptoms of COVID that last for months or more. Since the long-term effects of the disease are still so unknown, it can be difficult to prove it even to doctors. As Mohan writes, âIt can be particularly difficult for employees to present their case [to their companies] if they have not been hospitalized or do not have a positive test result for the virus. This means that many COVID-19 long carriers can end up with symptoms such as constant body aches or brain fog, but because their illness is not understood or they think they might end up losing their condition. employment if they are unable to work.
How mental illness fits
Mental illness is often overlooked and underdiagnosed in the United States, but it is technically protected by the ADA and conditions such as postpartum depression may be considered short-term.isabilities. But again, this is an area that is misunderstood by many employers and places a heavy burden of proof on the suffering employee.
As more companies seek to create a more inclusive workplace, and therefore a happier and more productive workforce, resulting in a more successful and profitable business, they must consider the needs. people who do the job. A complicated patchwork system that places an undue burden of proof on people when they are in distress is not the way to do it.
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