Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has become a confusing issue for injured workers, because employers frequently provide FMLA along with Pennsylvania workers’ compensation. But, they are two separate programs.
Which one is better for you as an injured worker? It depends on many factors and the details surrounding your employment and injury.
What Does FMLA Do?
The Family and Medical Leave Act was designed to protect both workers and employers. Although there is no reason why an injured worker could not request FMLA benefits, the employer usually starts the FMLA process.
FMLA allows certain employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year – with a few exceptions. You can take the leave if you have an urgent family or personal medical-related need, including a work injury.
It is important to note that your employer does not need to hold your original job for you. But your employer does need to provide you with a job of equivalent pay and benefits if you return to work within the 12-week time period. If you do not return to work after 12 weeks have passed, your employer can fire you without being held liable for wrongful termination.
FMLA also requires that group health benefits be maintained during the leave. However, employers may require the injured worker to handle the co-pay for these benefits, which can be very expensive.
Also, because the leave is unpaid, you will not have your usual income and may have trouble paying your bills. Depending on the situation, you may receive workers’ compensation or other sources of income.
If you’re injured on the job, you should contact an attorney or your employer for FMLA qualifications.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Do?
Workers’ compensation pays benefits to workers who have been injured on the job. The types of benefits and payments include:
Unfortunately, your job is not necessarily protected while you’re out of work with your injury. Your employer may try to force you to take a light-duty job or fire you – even if you didn’t do anything wrong.
In that case, the insurance company will have to continue to pay your workers’ compensation until you are closer to recovery and are able to find another job. Of course, you must make an honest effort to find a job once a doctor says you can work again.
Qualifying for FMLA and Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation
While there are several situations that would qualify an employee for FMLA, only a work-related illness or injury would qualify a worker for FMLA and workers’ compensation.
If you were injured on the job and are on FMLA, you can and should also apply for workers’ compensation benefits. Keep in mind that both workers’ compensation and FMLA require medical proof that you’re suffering from a work-related injury or illness. That means a doctor has to say that you are too injured or ill to work.
Examples of situations where you may or may not qualify for FMLA and/or workers’ compensation:
- You’re recovering from a ruptured appendix or childbirth, and you’re on FMLA. Since those medical reasons are not likely to be work-related, you wouldn’t be eligible to collect PA workers’ compensation payments.
- You fell on the job, broke a leg, and had to have surgery. You could be on FMLA and also be eligible to collect workers’ compensation payments, because the injury happened at work.
Employers and Workers Exempt from FMLA
Some companies and employees are exempt from FMLA. Exemptions may include:
- Companies with fewer than 50 employees
- Seasonal employees
- Employees who have worked a limited time with an employer
Protect Your Rights as an Injured Worker – Free Legal Evaluation
If you were injured on the job – whether or not you are on FMLA – you should protect your legal rights. Your employer’s insurance company won’t look out for your best interest and may try to deny you the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
At Edgar Snyder & Associates, we’ve helped over 7,000 injured workers deal with the complex workers’ compensation process.
Call 1-866-9-4EDGAR (1-866-943-3427), or fill out the form at the right of the page, for a free legal evaluation. There’s no obligation to use our services, and there’s never a fee unless we get money for you. Get started today.