Difference Between FMLA and Short Term Disability

fmla and short term disability

Employee benefits are the backbone of a resilient workforce, offering a safety net that extends beyond the confines of the workplace.

In a world where unforeseen circumstances are inevitable, these policies play a pivotal role in providing a sense of security and stability to employees.

They are designed not only to address the needs arising from personal and family situations but also to ensure financial well-being during challenging times.

As organizations strive to foster a conducive and supportive work environment, the implementation of comprehensive policies becomes paramount. At the forefront of this discussion are two crucial components: the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Short-Term Disability (STD).

STD that is drawn from disability insurance types and FMLA two are employed to provide substantial financial assistance during life adversities to the employees.

However, their specific factors differentiate between them. To know more, follow our guide and get comprehensive knowledge.


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a U.S. federal law that grants eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave annually for various family and medical reasons.

Enacted to balance the demands of the workplace with the personal needs of employees, FMLA covers situations such as the birth or adoption of a child, the serious health condition of the employee or an immediate family member, and the care of a covered service member with a severe injury or illness.


Short-Term Disability (STD) is an insurance mechanism that financially supports employees during temporary periods of inability to work due to illness, injury, or other qualifying conditions.

Typically lasting from a few weeks to a few months, STD provides income replacement, offering a crucial financial safety net for individuals facing health-related challenges.

Employees contribute to long term and short term disability insurance through payroll deductions, and once qualified, they receive a percentage of their regular income for the designated period.

Let’s See The Comparison: FMLA vs STD

Purpose and Coverage

The main difference between them is the purpose of the leave. FMLA includes personal illness, caring for a family member, or a newborn or adopted baby. Such circumstances include many things; it therefore offers security of job position in case of prolonged absence from work by qualified workers.

By contrast, Short-Term Disability (STD) considers compensation during a sickness, harm, or period of maternity leave that leads to a worker’s short-term disposition.

It usually runs for about half a year, to replace part of the worker’s income while he/she is still unwell. Temporary sickness absence insurance covers employees’ payment whilst they are unable to work through std leave.

For people who will be out of work for a long time because of some health problem or family reasons, it is important to distinguish which kind of leave is applicable – FMLA or STD.

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility requirements for short term disability vs FMLA are distinct and highlight that only qualified individuals can enjoy these important employment privileges and income benefits.

According to the FMLA, these employees should have been working with their employer for at least 12 months and must have put in at least 1,250 hours within the last year before the leave request is made.

Moreover, they have to work at a place where the firm employs 50 or fewer people within 75 miles of it. The FMLA is aimed at giving protection for an employee’s absence due to legitimate health and family reasons.

On the other hand, employees must be registered under a qualified long term and short term disability program provided by the employer to access disability benefits.

In this regard, the criteria depend on plans, mainly based on time spent in employment and specific plan requirements. STD only provides income protection for the medical condition covered under the policy. Further, the employee is required to submit medical certifications as well.

It is also notable that the eligibility criteria between long and short term disability insurance programs differ slightly in the definition of disability. Therefore, when comparing FMLA with STD, also seek comprehension of the nuances of both disability programs.

Duration and Compensation

  • FMLA: When it comes to short-term disability vs FMLA difference, compensation is a major factor. Eligible employees can take 12 weeks of leave without pay within every 12 months under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA ensures that one retains his/her job, but remember that during leave, it won’t help you anyway concerning financial stability. It provides leave flexibility to employees given the medical or familial circumstances safeguarding their job positions.
  • STD: STD, on the other hand, ensures that employees are paid in the event of a short-term disability. It compensates for part of the employee’s wages and pays the employees’ lost salaries during std leave as the employee cannot work because of sickness, injury, or postpartum period after delivery. The periods or the percentage of remuneration are determined by each employer’s plan or by the type of chosen benefits.

In situations where an employee is on extended leave from work due to illness or family-related reasons, it is crucial to distinguish between FMLA and short-term disability in terms of their duration and cost implications.

While FMLA ensures job protection without providing salary during the leave period, short-term disability (STD) offers financial assistance for a limited time. This highlights the distinct purposes of FMLA vs STD.

Essentially, FMLA safeguards job positions, whereas STD, as a form of disability insurance, aims to provide financial support to individuals facing temporary health challenges, such as sickness, illness, or injury.

Scope and Use

Similar to STD, FMLA primarily covers situations related to medical care, personal health, and attending to the needs of one’s family.

It grants eligible employees up to 12 weeks of job-protection unpaid leave for various circumstances, including personal illnesses or the caretaking of family members.

This provision serves as a crucial support system, allowing workers the necessary time to address health concerns or fulfill familial responsibilities without compromising job security.

However, STD, including Florida disability insurance, is specific to the condition whereby an employee cannot carry out their job functions on account of temporary disability.

Such a case may occur due to accidents and injuries at work or because of certain diseases that are compensated with a temporary disability allowance during the period of ability absence.

Interplay and Coordination

There is a mutual correlation between FMLA and STD Acts, mainly if an employee’s medical state satisfies both requirements.

Under FMLA, people are protected while in their absence, meaning that their positions in a company remain intact.

Concurrently, STD becomes another source of income for an individual until they come back to work, hence replacing their incomes.

Exploring the specifics of short-term disability and its interaction with other social programs, FMLA offers significant support to employees who face extended breaks due to illness or family obligations.

By strategically leveraging these resources simultaneously, employers can provide comprehensive support, maintain job security, and ensure financial stability even in challenging economic situations.


In these complex scenarios, where extended absenteeism impacts employees due to medical issues or personal matters, an understanding of the distinct features of FMLA and short-term disability is necessary.

In this context, FMLA offers job-protected leave for more extended periods, while Short-Term Disability becomes valuable by providing income support.

These resources function independently; however, when used together, they offer robust support during challenging times.

Familiarity with these intricate details and the potential interaction between these provisions serves as a powerful tool for staff members to navigate this challenging path. It enables them to seek the necessary assistance to preserve their jobs and salaries during prolonged absences.

We hope with our guide, you can comprehend perfectly what each entails, enabling you to make informed decisions regarding your secured future.


Is short-term disability paid weekly?

Yes, short-term disability is often paid weekly.

Who pays health insurance while on short-term disability?

It depends on the employer; some employers continue health insurance coverage, while others may require the employee to contribute during short-term disability.

How long is a short-term disability?

The duration of short-term disability varies but typically lasts for a few weeks to a few months.

Is anxiety a reason for short-term disability?

Yes, anxiety can be a valid reason for short-term disability if it significantly impacts the ability to work.

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