Group benefits are one of the most important aspects of your compensation as an employee. And those benefits may become even more important to you in the event that you need to take a disability leave from work. Usually, your employer will continue your much-needed coverage even while you are on a disability leave. But sometimes, with little or no warning, employers cut those benefits off. You may not find out until after the fact, when you try to submit a claim to your insurance.
This leads many employees to wonder whether this is even allowed in the first place. Can your employer legally cut off your benefits while you are on disability leave?
The short and cautious answer is usually probably not, but you should seek advice from an employment lawyer based on your specific situation. Here are the types of things we might consider:
Employment standards legislation requires benefits to be maintained for specified types of leave, for specified periods of time. The amount of benefit continuation guaranteed to you by employment standards legislation varies from province to province.
Every employee in Canada is covered by human rights legislation, which protects against (among other things) discrimination in employment on the basis of disability. Discontinuing benefits for employees on disability leave arguably amounts to prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability, but this question is not a well-developed area in human rights law.
Are you paying your premiums?
Many group benefit plans require the payment of employee premiums. When you’re actively working, those benefit premiums are deducted from your paycheque each pay cycle, and you may not even think about it. In contrast, when you are on disability leave, you have no paycheque from which those benefit premiums are deducted. While some employers will gratuitously cover the employee premium, others may discontinue the benefits altogether. If you want to ensure that your benefits continue during your disability leave, make sure you know who is responsible for paying premiums.
Perhaps the most important legal question is whether discontinuing the benefits of an employee on disability leave amounts to a termination of employment, known in these circumstances as a constructive dismissal. Unfortunately, the case law does not provide a straight answer. In one 2009 Ontario Superior Court case, Briggs v Treco, the discontinuation of benefits was held to amount to a constructive dismissal. In another case, Lemesani v Lowerys, the court reached the opposite conclusion. This issue still has yet to be conclusively answered by courts, and each case will likely come down to its own facts.
If it is a constructive dismissal, what are you entitled to?
If your employment was constructively dismissed by the abrupt cessation of your benefit coverage, you may quit and sue your employer for damages. The discontinuation of your benefits while on disability leave may also amount to a failure to accommodate your disability, which violates human rights legislation and could entitle you to additional damages. The value of your case, however, will depend on whether your medical condition has led to the frustration of your employment.
Frustration of employment
Your employer may terminate your employment and your benefit coverage if and when your employment has become frustrated by your disability. Frustration occurs where you have been disabled from working for a prolonged period (at least two years or so), and your medical condition is such that you are not likely to be able to return to work in the foreseeable future.
Depending on the location and industry of your work, you may be entitled to certain notice and/or severance payments upon the frustration of your employment.
If you have had your claim for long-term disability denied, contact the long term disability insurance lawyers at Share Lawyers. Our experienced team of long term disability (LTD) lawyers can help. We have recently settled cases against Canada Life, Desjardins, Manulife, RBC Insurance, Sun Life, and many more. We offer free consultations and there are no fees unless we win your case. Find out if you have a disability case.
Denied your long term disability claim?
Contact Share Lawyers today and put our experience to work for you. Our 35+ years of experience can help you win your case against Canada Life, Desjardins, Manulife, RBC Insurance, Sun Life, and other insurance companies. We offer free consultations and there are no fees unless you win your case. Join us on Facebook and become a Top Fan for a chance to win each month.
A note from our long term disability lawyers
Taking a medical leave from work is not an easy decision to make. Concerns about providing for yourself and your family and keeping your job may cause you to want to push through your pain, but this won’t make your problems go away. Stopping work is often the smartest decision for your long term health and well-being, and your disability benefits are there to provide you with financial support until you can return to work.
If you have made the tough decision to stop working and apply for your short term disability or long term disability benefits, you may feel overwhelmed by the process and have questions that your employer and your insurance company are not able or willing to answer. Share is There to see you through and answer your questions.
Our Disability law firm knows what you have been going through
We understand that things have not been easy for you over the last little while. Your health has been suffering, you are unable to work, and now your insurance company, who was supposed to be there in your time of need, has decided they will not pay your disability benefits or respect your disability claim. These benefits exist to provide you with the financial support you need so that you can focus on your health and rebuilding your life. It is unfortunate that your insurance company has not lived up to its promise. If your disability claim has been denied, we will fight to get you the benefits you are entitled to. Our disability lawyers have helped thousands of Canadians get their long term disability benefits over the past 35 years, and we can help you too.
Our experienced disability lawyers can fight back on your behalf
Share Lawyers believes that every client who is dealing with a disability claim deserves superior personal service. To achieve that goal, we have developed our team of experienced, compassionate, and caring long term disability lawyers, law clerks, and administrative staff to meet all of your needs. Our team of experienced long term disability, life insurance, employment, and critical illness insurance lawyers have made successful claims against many insurance companies, third-party administrators and employers.
If you are unable to work, your disability benefits should be there to provide you with the financial support you need. While your insurance company may be focused on finding ways to avoid paying your claim, our focus is on what is in your best interest. When Share Lawyers gets involved, you have an entire team of lawyers that are there to support you and to fight for what is yours.
Our disability claim lawyers fight for your disability insurance claim by relying on our many years of experience to apply the best strategic planning and approach in each case, using the latest technology available. Experience matters, and with Share Lawyers, you are in the best hands with 35 years of success on your side.
In this video, we explain the role of a long term disability lawyer and how we can support you when you have been denied your long term disability benefits.