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Our Responsibility for Benefit Premiums While on a Leave of Absence

Date: October 5, 2023

We continue to see instances where employees on unpaid leaves of absence experience difficulties with health and wellness benefits resulting largely from confusion over how those premiums are paid while on leave. 

If you are off from work on an unpaid leave of absence, that is, where you are not receiving a paycheck from United Airlines, whether you have a long-term illness, were injured on the job, Special COLA or on Maternity leave, the cost of benefits at active rates remains an individual responsibility.  While there is an initial short period of time where the company will allow you to build an arrears balance for health and wellness benefits, ultimately are responsible to make these payments and must make arrangements with the company to pay your medical, dental and vision premiums. 

  • Note: While on a COLA or Personal Leave, Flight Attendants are responsible for the full premium cost for the duration of their leave.

Detailed information on how making premium payments for benefits works while you are on a leave of absence as well as information on which benefits are portable while on leave is contained in the Leave of Absence packet which is available from the company website.

In short, despite the fact that you are receiving benefits at active rates while on leave, you are no longer receiving a paycheck from which payroll deductions can be taken, you must make arrangements through the Your Benefits Resource (YBR) website to set up direct payments made through an ACH payment from a checking or savings account. It is possible to make payment using a credit card but there is an accompanying 3% convenience fee added for these transactions.  

For those who were injured on the job, there is some added complexity.   Many believe, because they were injured on the job, United covers the cost of their health and wellness premiums.  In fact, only those medical expenses related to your injury are covered by Workers' Compensation.  Any other medical treatments or prescription drugs are not covered.

Temporary Total Disability (TTD) payments issued directly to the Flight Attendant by Sedgewick, based on earnings from the twelve-month period preceding the date of injury, are not wages.  These checks are issued by Sedgewick and are separate from United Payroll Systems.  For this reason, no benefit premium payments are withheld from Sedgewick (Workers' Compensation) payment and are to be paid directly to United via the YBR website.

If, however, you are supplementing your TTD payments with hours from your sick leave bank and you continue to receive a paycheck from United, provided the amount of the check is sufficient to cover the cost of health and wellness premiums, they will be deducted from the supplemental payment.  Otherwise, premium payments will still need to be made via the YBR website.

Access Your Benefits Resources (YBR) from the Employee Services tab on Flying Together to determine the status of your premiums or contact the United Airlines Benefits Service Center (UABC) at: 800-651-1007.

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