It’s understandable why these two forms of protection are often confused. Both disability insurance and sick leave can be used to cover expenses when you’re unable to work. But they each have slightly different applications—especially in the state of Maryland. To help clarify matters, we’re dedicating today’s blog to the topic of leave. Starting with:
Sick Leave in the State of Maryland
For short absences, most employers provide some sort of paid sick leave. Although the policies will vary slightly from company to company, the introduction of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act at the beginning of 2018 offers some uniform guidance. Now, all small businesses with 15 or more employees (and some under this size) have to offer paid sick leave. For every 30 hours you work, you should accumulate 1 hour of paid sick time. This applies to full-time, part-time, and even seasonal workers. So, more people throughout our communities will be able to take time off of work to care for themselves or others in their family.
However, it’s up to the employer to decide whether you’ll receive a minimum of 40 hours of sick leave (for full-timers) upfront or accrue this time throughout the year. You’ll also be responsible for giving proper notice when you want to use this paid time off, and certain waiting periods may apply. But it’s a benefit that’s offered to more people in Maryland now than ever before. It also applies to preventative or emergency care for people other than yourself. If you need more guidance on how this particular benefit works, please refer back to the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act and your company handbook.
Disability Insurance is a Little Different
While sick leave is a great employee benefit, many companies are now choosing to offer short term disability insurance, too. Although it only pays a percentage of your regular salary as opposed to 100% of your pay (like sick time), it can last much longer. If you were sick or injured and needed to remain out of work for 4 to 6 weeks, what would you do? You might have sick leave for the first week or two, but after that you could be going without a paycheck for several more weeks. That’s where disability insurance really makes a difference.
It can be used for virtually any medical reason, whether you’re out of work from an accident, a preplanned surgery, or maternity leave. Just be sure to ask about pre-existing conditions when you sign up. You may also get to choose how long you’d like your disability insurance to last. Short-term options usually include 3 to 6 months of coverage. But you can also ask about long-term benefits that can provide payment(s) up to a year, two years, or even age 65. Ultimately, this type of insurance is there for a disability, not your average sickness. While you may not be able to use it if you miss a few days because of a cold or the flu, it can make a big difference in your financial standing when you’re out of work for an extended period of time.
Unfortunately, it usually comes as individual coverage. Meaning, you can’t use it to care for others in your family if they’re unable to work. If you’re perfectly healthy, your disability insurance won’t kick in. That’s why, an ideal employee benefits package offers both sick leave and disability insurance. Even if your company doesn’t currently offer short- or long-term disability coverage, we might be able to help. Contact Freedom Insurance Agency to learn more about your options today!