(a) Group health plan benefits must be maintained on the same basis as coverage would have been provided if the employee had been continuously employed during the FMLA leave period. Therefore, any share of group health plan premiums which had been paid by the employee prior to FMLA leave must continue to be paid by the employee during the FMLA leave period. If premiums are raised or lowered, the employee would be required to pay the new premium rates. Maintenance of health insurance policies which are not a part of the employer's group health plan, as described in § 825.209(a), are the sole responsibility of the employee. The employee and the insurer should make necessary arrangements for payment of premiums during periods of unpaid FMLA leave.
(b) If the FMLA leave is substituted paid leave, the employee's share of premiums must be paid by the method normally used during any paid leave, presumably as a payroll deduction.
(c) If FMLA leave is unpaid, the employer has a number of options for obtaining payment from the employee. The employer may require that payment be made to the employer or to the insurance carrier, but no additional charge may be added to the employee's premium payment for administrative expenses. The employer may require employees to pay their share of premium payments in any of the following ways:
(1) Payment would be due at the same time as it would be made if by payroll deduction;
(2) Payment would be due on the same schedule as payments are made under COBRA;
(3) Payment would be prepaid pursuant to a cafeteria plan at the employee's option;
(4) The employer's existing rules for payment by employees on leave without pay would be followed, provided that such rules do not require prepayment (i.e., prior to the commencement of the leave) of the premiums that will become due during a period of unpaid FMLA leave or payment of higher premiums than if the employee had continued to work instead of taking leave; or,
(5) Another system voluntarily agreed to between the employer and the employee, which may include prepayment of premiums (e.g., through increased payroll deductions when the need for the FMLA leave is foreseeable).
(d) The employer must provide the employee with advance written notice of the terms and conditions under which these payments must be made. See § 825.300(c).
(e) An employer may not require more of an employee using unpaid FMLA leave than the employer requires of other employees on leave without pay.
(f) An employee who is receiving payments as a result of a workers' compensation injury must make arrangements with the employer for payment of group health plan benefits when simultaneously taking FMLA leave. See § 825.207(e).