Waiting periods return for COVID-19 confirmed STD claims
November 2, 2021
For business owners, plan administrators, and sponsors
When the COVID-19 global pandemic reached Canada, Manulife was quick to act in support of plan members. One of our first steps was to temporarily waive the normal waiting periods for COVID-19 confirmed short-term disability claims for groups with insured plans.
By waiving the waiting period, we supported the health of Canadians by providing immediate financial support to people who had to stay home from work due to COVID-19 illness. This helped prevent the virus from spreading during those exceptional and crucial early months.
Since then, individuals, health authorities, employers, and governments have worked hard to develop habits, protocols, and programs to help us all get through the pandemic. It is now appropriate, and in our plan sponsors’ interests, to reinstate the normal waiting periods for short-term disability claims with a date of disability of November 15th or later.
A fair and equal approach for all
Reinstating the waiting period means all plan members will be treated equally and fairly, regardless of the reason for their claim. The decision is in keeping with the contracts and intentions of the employers and organizations who sponsor a disability program for their plan members.
New government programs offer additional financial support
On September 27, 2020, the federal government made effective a new package offering income support for people who are unable to work due to COVID-19. Amongst the new programs is the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. This program means Canadian workers have access to paid sick leave if they need it.
Plan members who are unable to work because of COVID-19 can find details about the new programs on the Government of Canada website.
The right decision at the right time
We believe that temporarily waiving the waiting period for COVID-19 confirmed short-term disability claims in the early days of the pandemic was the right thing to do. While we all continue to adapt to the pandemic, we must now look to the long-term interests of our plan sponsors and the continued viability of their benefits programs, so those plans can continue to support the health of plan members and their families.