Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Confused About FMLA and Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation?
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 with two separate sets of rules.
Which one is better for you as an injured worker? It depends on many factors and the details surrounding your employment and injury.
Any injury is stressful, but one that affects your ability to earn a living is especially overwhelming. If you've been hurt on the job and have questions about your options, you can call us. We offer free legal consultations – we'll talk about your situation and tell you what we think is best for you.
There's no obligation to use our services, and we're available 24/7. Call 412-394-1000, or fill out the form at the right of the page.
What Does FMLA Do?
The Family and Medical Leave Act is 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.
Here are the main features of the program:
- 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.
- Your employer does not need to hold your original job for you if you are on FMLA.
- 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.
- Your group health benefits will be maintained during FMLA leave. However, you may have to take care of the co-pay for these benefits. This can get very expensive.
Also, because the leave is unpaid, you will not have your usual income. Depending on the situation, you may receive workers' compensation or other sources of income.
What Does Workers' Compensation Do?
Workers' compensation pays benefits to workers who have been injured on the job. Here are some key points to know about Pennsylvania workers' compensation:
- You're eligible for benefits only if you sustained a work-related injury or illness.
- You are the one who initiates the work comp process. You must file a work comp claim within 120 days of sustaining your work-related injury or illness. Or, if you didn't know about your condition right away, you must file within 120 days of becoming aware of your injury or illness.
- 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. If this happens, it's important to contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney.
- There are several different types of work comp payments, including:
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
- Scar Payments
- Specific Loss (loss of limb or other amputation injury)
- Lump Sum Settlement
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 to receive both FMLA and workers' compensation.
Here is an example that would only qualify you for FMLA:
- 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.
Here's one that would qualify your for both Pennsylvania workers' compensation and FMLA:
- 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.
If you were injured on the job and are already on FMLA, you can and should apply for workers' compensation benefits. Keep in mind that workers' compensation requires medical proof that you're too injured or ill to 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