We’d like to remind you about continuing coverage for employees under your benefits plan. Here’s what you need to know.

Temporary layoffs

It’s important to make sure that you haven’t continued coverage beyond what your contract allows, or what Sun Life has approved.

Please review your list of employees currently on layoff due to COVID-19. If you’ve continued coverage beyond the time limits below, you’ll need to end coverage retroactively:

  • a maximum of 3 months for disability benefits
  • a maximum of 6 months for all other benefits.

There may be exceptions to these time limits if:

  • your benefits plan allows coverage to continue longer than these periods, or
  • Sun Life has approved your request to continue coverage for a longer period.

Statutory leaves

  • Minimum standards legislation varies between the provinces and territories. If the minimum standards legislation applicable to your employees doesn’t require you to continue coverage, then your contract doesn’t allow for it either.
  • On March 19, 2020, Ontario enacted the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL). This deemed non-unionized employees who were on layoff due to COVID-19, to be on a statutory leave. Employers were required to continue coverage for all benefits that were in place as of May 29, 2020. There are some exceptions to IDEL.

Please review with your legal counsel if you should continue coverage for employees under IDEL or another statutory leave. If your employee isn’t on a statutory leave, then their absence may qualify as either a personal leave or temporary layoff.

Our standard plans allow coverage to continue for personal leaves of absence. Similar to temporary layoffs, coverage shouldn’t continue for more than 3 months.

Leaves due to illness

  • On May 1, 2020, we made changes to Sun Life’s standard continuation of coverage contract provision. This was to help clarify when you can continue coverage for employees on indefinite sick leaves, resulting from an illness. 
  • If an employee is not on a disability claim, but can’t work because of an illness, then don’t continue disability coverage beyond the Short-Term Disability (STD) maximum benefit period or the Long-Term Disability (LTD) elimination period, whichever is applicable. If disability coverage continues beyond these time limits, employees won’t be eligible for STD or LTD benefits.

We want to continue to support you during these times. We also want to ensure that your employees, who are not actively at work, have the coverage that their plans allow.

For more information on this topic, here are links to the Focus Updates we sent out in 2020:

Questions? We’re here to help.

For Clients with fewer than 50 employees, please contact your Client Service Administrator at 1-877-786-7227.

For Clients with more than 50 employees, please contact your Sun Life Group Benefits representative.

Please check out our Group Benefits COVID-19 website for updates.