Don't HR Alone #58 - Holidays, HSAs, And Pregnancy
With the holidays coming up, I thought we could first briefly discuss whether holidays count towards the time used against the FMLA leave entitlement.
Well, it depends on the type of FMLA leave the employee is taking. FMLA leave may be taken in periods of whole weeks, single days, hours, and in some rare cases, even less than an hour. When a holiday falls during a week in which an employee is taking the full week of FMLA leave, the entire week is counted as FMLA leave. However, when a holiday falls during a week when an employee is taking less than the full week of FMLA leave, the holiday is not counted as FMLA leave, unless the employee was scheduled and expected to work on the holiday and used FMLA leave for that day.
Our next topic was sent to us from a listener. He asked:
"If an employee turns 65 this month and enrolls in Medicare Part A, can he still receive/contribute funds into an HSA until the end of the year?"
The employee may contribute to his Health Savings Account (HSA) only while he meets all four eligibility criteria:
is enrolled in a qualifying High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)
does not have any disqualifying non-HDHP coverage
is not enrolled in Medicare
and cannot be claimed as another taxpayer’s tax dependent.
Eligibility is determined on a monthly basis, so contributions cannot be made for a particular month unless he meets all the eligibility criteria that month.
The tax law governing HSAs sets an annual limit on maximum contributions. For 2017, the annual limit is $3,400 (if enrolled for single HDHP coverage) or $6,750 (if enrolled for family HDHP coverage). For persons age 55 and older, an additional catch-up contribution of $1,000 is allowed. If not eligible for all 12 months of the calendar year, the annual limit is pro-rated. For instance, if the employee was eligible each month from January through May, then became covered for Medicare on June 1, his maximum allowable HSA contribution for 2017 would be 5/12ths of the usual annual limit.
Employees participating in HSAs are encouraged to review their own situation with their personal tax advisor.
We received a question from a business owner in a somewhat sticky situation. They said:
“One of our newest hires has already missed a significant amount of work, and we have been talking about terminating her employment for absenteeism. She told us today that she is pregnant and her medical condition is the reason for her absences. Can we still move forward with termination?”
While it might seem to be a simple decision to terminate employment for a new employee who has been unreliable and missed a lot of work, you MUST consult with your legal counsel prior to taking any form of disciplinary action. Pregnancy is protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and expands unlawful sex discrimination to include pregnancy, childbirth, and pregnancy-related medical conditions.
The PDA provides that an employer may not refuse to hire, terminate, or otherwise discriminate against a pregnant employee and must treat her the same way the employer treats other temporarily disabled employees. Some states offer additional protection for pregnant employees.
When you’re considering terminating this employee, reflect on the reasons why you hired her and the training you have already provided to onboard her to the job and your company. Think about working with her to see if there might be some temporary changes you could make to help her work a more regular schedule. Maybe adjust her hours to later in the morning if she is currently having morning sickness.
The key is to give her the same kind of consideration you might give another employee suffering with a temporary condition before resorting to employment termination. If there are other reasons besides these attendance issues that are causing you to contemplate terminating employment, be sure that you have documentation detailing how her performance is falling short of expectations and what training and coaching you have provided to help her be successful. I’d recommend consulting with your labor attorney prior to taking action.
As always I encourage you to submit questions/topics you’d like to see covered on the next podcast via Poplar Financial’s Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!