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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I was terminated on August 1st from my job (of 2 & 1/2 years).

Customer Question

I was terminated on August 1st from my job (of 2 & 1/2 years). My employer is paying my medical through August 31, but including this as part of a 2 month severance payout through September 30, including my wages. Is it California law to pay out 30 days of medical benefits (thus should my 2 months included in the severance actually be extended through October 31st?)
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Good afternoon and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I am very sorry to hear you are being let go.

Under the federal WARN Act, an employer with at least 100 employees that lays off at least 50 during a 30-day period must either give 60 days notice of the lay off or pay 60 days wages. This is the only circumstance in which an employer has a statutory obligation to offer any severance at all. If an employer offers a severance deal and WARN does not apply, they are motivated only by their desire to break off the employment relationship on good terms and/or to obtain a waiver of any conceivable rights you may have to sue.

With regard to continuation of your health care coverage, your employer may have statutory obligations under the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (aka "COBRA"). Specifically, COBRA provides if an employee is receiving health coverage through an employer group plan that covers 20 or more employees and is terminated for reasons other than gross misconduct, they can apply for an extension of coverage for up to 18 additional months or until they find new employment. Under COBRA, employees must pay their entire health care premium--so it's not free--but considering that premiums through a group healthcare plan are dramatically less expensive, the cost savings of COBRA are very real.

If your employer is paying the entire cost of your health insurance, they are going above and beyond the obligations they may have pursuant to COBRA and that is good. See here for more information about COBRA as well as how to apply: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq-consumer-cobra.html

To summarize here, unless you are being terminated as part of a mass layoff at a large company, your employer has no statutory obligation to provide any severance at all (of course, many still will). Separate and apart from an employer's severance obligations, COBRA may entitle you to a continuation of your health coverage at your current group rate for up to 18 months. Your employer doesn't need to pay for this, but they need to keep you on the plan, and the cost savings of being part of a group plan is substantial. If your employer is offering to pay the full cost of your health insurance, that is above and beyond any statutory obligation they may have. You are free, of course, to counter with a greater severance demand, but two months severance and paid insurance is actually a decent offer.

I hope the above provides you with some guidance. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes to you and thank you so much for coming to Just Answer.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Michelle,

Your question is still open and so I wanted to follow up to see if you were in need of any additional information. Can I assist you further?

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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq.
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Significant experience in all areas of employment law.