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My injured employee has been away from work for 6 months. Can I terminate his health insurance?

Irvine, CA |

I operate a small company (6 employees). One of my workers injured himself on the job back in September. It didn't seem major, but he went to see a doctor and a lawyer, and filed a workers comp claim. Saying he's injured, he hasn't worked for me since September.

I've continued to pay for his health insurance ever since. The insurance plan documents say that the company only has to pay for his insurance for 3 months while he's on medical leave.

Can I terminate his health insurance now that the 3 months is up? I'd like to do it, but I don't want it to look like I'm retaliating against him for filing a WC claim, because I'm not.

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Attorney answers 3


You should consult with an employment attorney about your options, either via telephone or in person. Because you are not governed by FMLA based on the size of your business, there are options available to you with respect to your injured employee. However, the number of employees you have meets the minimum requirements for the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) which requires that you engage in a good faith interactive process with the employee in order to determine what, if any, reasonable accommodations can be made to allow the employee to return to work. Your post does not specify all of the details surrounding the injury, possible restrictions, accommodations sought, etc.



Mr. Weinman, thanks a lot for your reply. I did some research for FEHA. I don't necessarily want to fire my employee, just terminate his health coverage. But if I did terminate him, isn't it enough "accommodation" that I gave him basically 5 months off to recover from his injury while holding his job open for him? Thanks again.

Jonathan Aaron Weinman

Jonathan Aaron Weinman


More information would be needed because what you describe as an "accommodation" may not be sufficient if the individual could return to work and perform the essential duties of his job with a reasonable accommodation. You are permitted to require the employee to pay the premium for coverage while on leave under various circumstances as well.



Thank you again.


It is not unlawful for an employer to cease employee benefit insurance if the terms of the plan dictate that the employer can do so.

It would be prudent for you to consult with experienced employment law counsel to deal with this situation. If you do not have one, every California employer should have an employment attorney on speed dial given the complexities of the state and federal laws with which you must contend.

Good luck to you.

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.


I added worker's compensation to the relevant area of law so more attorneys would see your post.

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