Some employees who take medical leave from work question whether they should return. Some employees might want to quit their jobs while they are out on leave. There are several things you should consider when you are thinking about quitting your job, including practical matters and legal issues. The first concern will likely be your finances and how you will be able to afford your daily living expenses and get health insurance if you choose not to return to work. Here are some things to think about from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler.
Will Your Employer Offer Accommodations?
Depending on the reason for your medical leave, your employer might offer accommodations to help you perform the tasks of your job when you return. If you took leave after suffering a disabling injury, you can ask for accommodations that will allow you to perform the tasks of your job. As long as your requested accommodations are reasonable and won’t be unduly burdensome for your employer, you should receive accommodations for a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
If you took medical leave to have a baby and bond, your employer is not required to provide accommodations to you once you return based on being a new parent. For example, your employer is not obligated to change your job to part-time or flexible hours. However, if you need accommodations based on an injury you suffered while giving birth, your employer might provide accommodations to you. On the other hand, if your employer has provided similar accommodations to other workers, it can’t discriminate against you based on your protected characteristics. For example, if your employer provides new mothers with the chance to work part-time once they return to work following maternity leave, new fathers should also have the opportunity to work part-time after returning to work following paternity leave.
Even if your employer isn’t required to accommodate you when you return to work, you can still ask for them. Your employer might agree to make some changes if the alternative is losing you. The worst they could say is no.
Can I Resign During or Following Medical Leave?
Most employees in New Jersey work at will, which means they can end their employment relationships at any time and for any reason. Unless you work under an employment contract that restricts your ability to end your job, you have the right to resign your position while you are out on medical leave. Unless you signed a contract with your employer that calls for a specific duration of employment, you can quit your job.
Even though you are free to quit your job, you should consider a few potential legal consequences. First, you won’t be entitled to receive unemployment compensation. These types of benefits are only available to people who suffer involuntary job losses and not to people who voluntarily quit. If you simply don’t want to return to your job following medical leave because of a non-compelling personal reason, you won’t qualify for unemployment benefits.
A second consideration to think about is that your employer might require you to reimburse it for their portion of your health insurance premiums. If your medical leave was taken under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), your employer had to maintain your health insurance benefits while you were out on medical leave. If you decide against returning to your job after your leave, your employer can ask you to repay any money your employer paid to maintain your health insurance during your absence. However, you won’t have to repay your employer for your health insurance premiums if you return to your job for at least 30 days.
Finally, you should review your employee manual to see how quitting your job will impact your other benefits. For example, check whether you are fully vested in your 401(k) plan. If you received a signing bonus, check whether quitting will force you to pay it back. Other things to think about include whether you will need to return your employer’s property, including your laptop, phone, or car. Make sure you have a good understanding of the consequences before you decide to quit while you are out on medical leave.
Quitting While You Are on Medical Leave
If you have thought through everything and still want to quit your job, you need to think about some details. You will need to figure out how much notice you should give and what to tell your employer about your decision. These types of things are important for maintaining a good relationship with your employer. It is best for you to give your employer as much notice as you can so that it will have time to replace your position. This might also help you ensure that you receive a good reference in the future when you are looking for a new job.
You should understand that your employer can immediately terminate your job as soon as you give notice that you intend to quit. This might mean that your health insurance and other employer-provided benefits will end. Many employees worry about these potential repercussions and don’t give notice well in advance of when they intend to quit.
Speak to an Attorney
If you are thinking about quitting your job while you are out on medical leave, you might want to consult an employment lawyer about the possible repercussions. Speak to an attorney at Swartz Swidler for free by calling 856-685-7420.