1410 - State Disability Insurance (SDI)
Benefits and Insurance
- Employee Relations Officers
- Personnel Officers
- Personnel Transactions Supervisors
- Defines State Disability Insurance (SDI) and the length of SDI entitlement.
- Identifies Leave of Absence (LOA) requirements.
- Discusses the waiting period, use of leave credits, and leave supplementation during SDI.
- Provides information on the continuation of health benefits, working while on SDI, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation.
- Provides an illustration of using various leave programs with SDI.
The SDI program is a partial wage replacement insurance plan for eligible state employees. Employees covered under the SDI program have two benefits available to them: Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL).
The Employment Development Department (EDD) has SDI administrative responsibility and determines the annual employee contribution rate; the State Controller’s Office (SCO) provides employment history transaction instructions, and the Department of Human Resources (CalHR) has program responsibility.
For specific benefit eligibility and payment amount information refer to EDD’s website.
The SDI program is a wage continuation program for employees who have been certified for a non-work-related illness or injury. SDI is available to rank-and-file employees in Bargaining Units 1, 3, 4, 11, 14, 15, 17, 20, and 21.
The SDI program has two components – DI and PFL. An employee cannot receive both DI and PFL simultaneously.
The DI program provides benefits to eligible employees who have a loss of wages when they are unable to work due to a non-work related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Benefits under DI are paid up to 52 weeks.
The PFL program provides benefits to eligible employees who need to take time off to care for a seriously ill child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or registered domestic partner, or to bond with a new child or a child in connection with adoption or foster care placement. PFL is limited to a six-week paid benefit within a 12-month period. However, PFL will extend from six weeks to a maximum of eight weeks effective July 1, 2020.
There are several components related to the SDI program outlined below.
Leave of Absence Requirements
An employee is required to obtain an approved leave of absence from their human resources (HR) office. A leave is granted when the employee has a necessary absence from duty due to a DI or PFL reason. A physician’s or licensed practitioner’s medical certification is required in order to substantiate the leave of absence request. The medical certification shall include the anticipated length of the employee’s absence, any restrictions upon returning to work that prevent the employee from performing the full range of his or her normal duties, and any anticipated future absences.
The employee’s request for a leave shall include whether or not he or she is planning to file for SDI, the beginning and ending dates of the anticipated leave and a telephone number where the employee can be reached.
If the HR office receives notification from EDD that an employee has filed a claim for SDI benefits, and the employee has not requested a leave of absence (LOA), the employer will notice the employee requesting that he or she apply for a leave of absence. While the employee is off work for a LOA reason, they may be placed on temporary leave status until the LOA request is received and approved. An employer may not deny an employee’s request for a leave of absence for an SDI claim. A leave of absence is the mechanism used to for employment history purposes.
If the qualifying injury or illness continues beyond the expiration date of the SDI benefits, the leave of absence may be extended. An employee’s leave of absence is terminated either (1) on the expiration date of the leave, or (2) by the employee when he or she becomes medically certified to return to full employment.
Upon termination of a leave, a permanent or probationary employee has a right to his or her former position, as defined by Government Code section 18522.
Waiting Period/Leave Credits
DI requires the employee to serve a waiting period of seven calendar days in which the employee has the option to use accrued vacation, annual leave, compensating time off (CTO), holiday credit, personal leave (PLP/VPLP), or sick leave balances per the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
During a waiting period, the employee may use available leave credits, be placed on an unpaid leave, or use a combination of leave credits and unpaid leave. If the employee elects to use leave credits, the employee’s leave of absence status will begin on the day the use of leave credits end.
Effective January 1, 2018, PFL no longer requires the employee to serve a waiting period.
Current agreements between the state and various bargaining units allows for supplementation of up to 40 hours of accrued leave credits per month while receiving SDI benefits. Leave credits that can be used to supplement are vacation, annual leave, CTO, holiday credit, furlough, personal leave (PLP/VPLP), professional development days (PDD), and sick (for approved sick leave reasons only).The leave credits combined with SDI benefits cannot exceed the employee’s monthly gross.
The employee must notify the employer of their election to supplement SDI benefits with the use of leave credits and the number of hours of leave credits to be charged each month (up to 40 hours maximum, the 40 hours does not include the hours used during the waiting period). The use of leave credits beyond the waiting period may impact the employee’s SDI benefit.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
Employees who are approved to receive SDI benefits are typically eligible for FMLA/CFRA benefits. If the employee elects submit a certification for the need to take FMLA/CFRA and it is approved, the FMLA and/or CFRA benefits may run concurrent with the SDI benefits. Please see the appropriate Policy Statements for other leaves which may run concurrent with SDI benefits.
Health Insurance Coverage
Pursuant to MOU provisions, the state will continue up to 26 weeks of health, dental, and vision coverage while the employee is receiving SDI benefits. When an employee has been designated FMLA/CFRA, the employer is required to continue up to 12 weeks of the same benefits. The benefit continuation requirement under Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL), FMLA, and CFRA run concurrent with the SDI provisions of the MOU. Reference the applicable Policy Statement for information on those leaves.
If the employee chooses to supplement their SDI with up to 40 hours of leave credits, their health, dental, and vision premiums will be deducted from the supplementation pay. In the event the employee elects not to supplement their SDI with the use of leave credits, SCO will set up an accounts receivable for the employee’s portion of the health benefits premium after the employee returns to work. If the employee does not return to work after the 26 weeks, in order to continue the health benefits, the employee would be required to direct pay the provider for both the employee and employer share of the health benefits premiums.
Working While Receiving SDI Benefits
When medically certified, an employee may work reduced hours while receiving SDI benefits.
When a full-time employee physically works and/or uses leave credits for 11 or more days (or part-time equivalent) in the pay period, the pay period is qualifying. A qualifying pay period provides the employee with leave credit and state service accruals. When combined, time worked and the SDI benefit amount cannot exceed the employee’s total regular gross salary. If the time worked, plus the SDI pay, exceeds the total gross salary, the SDI benefit may be reduced. Payment of leave credits and/or time worked is considered regular pay, and subject to mandatory and voluntary deductions. Voluntary deductions will be deducted from regular pay unless cancelled by the employee. There must be sufficient net pay to take the deduction(s). The employee is responsible for canceling and reestablishing voluntary deductions and making direct payments to the carrier(s). The employee’s union dues/fair share fees will be withheld while the employee is on pay status. Union dues/fair share fees will not be withheld while on a leave of absence (not receiving pay). The employee may elect to pay union dues/fair share fees directly to his or her union.
When an employee files a claim for a work-related injury, he or she may be eligible to receive SDI benefits while waiting for the claim to be approved. SDI benefits may also be provided if the worker’s compensation benefit is less than the SDI benefits.
Various Leave Programs with SDI
Below are various leave programs with definitions and timeframes that coordinate with the SDI program and how they interact with each other.
Leave of Absence - Up to one year.
Family Medical Leave Act – 12 weeks of job protected coverage in a 12-month period for employee’s own illness; family members’ illness; or bonding.
California Family Rights Act – 12 weeks of job protected coverage in a 12-month period for employee’s own illness; family members’ illness; or bonding.
Pregnancy Disability Leave – Up to a maximum of 4 months for a pregnancy disability/birth.
Disability Insurance – Up to 52 weeks.
Paid Family Leave – 6 weeks in a 12-month period.**
Health Care Benefits ***
Health Care Benefits – Up to 12 weeks of employer-covered benefits under FMLA/CFRA. Up to 26 weeks of employer-covered health care benefits per the SEIU MOU. (Employee must be on the SDI Program.)
* DI and PFL = SDI Program
** Effective July 1, 2020, PFL extends from six weeks to a maximum of eight weeks.
*** Both CFRA and FMLA require that the employer continue paying for the employee’s “group health care” benefits. This obligation is only for a total of 12 workweeks of leave, whether taken under FMLA or CFRA or both. There is not a 12-week obligation to continue health care benefits under FMLA and then a separate 12-week obligation under CFRA. NOTE: Per the MOU for SEIU-represented employees, the employer is required to continue paying for health care benefits up to 26 weeks.
- PML 2006-012: PML 2006-012 - 6/23/2006 - SDI Program
- PML 2006-042: PML 2006-042 - 11/6/2006 - Changes to the SDI Program
- Employment Development Department: Paid Family Leave: Employment Development Department: Paid Family Leave
- Employment Development Department: SDI for State Employees: Employment Development Department: SDI for State Employees
- SCO PPM section E: Disability
Personnel Services Branch
Personnel Program Consultant , Personnel Services Branch
Chief, Personnel Management Division