Workers’ compensation benefits are paid for in the form of insurance by your employer. If your injuries or illness qualify for coverage, you can collect compensation for your medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and some of your lost wages if you need to take time off of work to recover.
Where Do You Live?
The state you live in will determine what your rights are exactly regarding time off work, and whether or not you’ll even have a job to go back to when you recover. Most states do not require private companies to hold positions open for workers that are on leave for illness or injury. While the employer cannot specifically fire you for claiming workers’ comp or being out of work because you physically cannot be there, if they are busy and need to fill your position, they can do so.
Some states do provide job protection for a certain time period, such as 6 months or a year. If your leave goes beyond this time period though, your employer has the right to terminate you.
In these states, even if the employer needed to fill your position while you were away, you have the right to request that exact same position once your return. Other states only require employers to offer you a job, while not necessarily being the same job you left.
Family Medical Leave Act
Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, if a situation occurs where you or a close family member becomes severely ill, and you are an employee of a company with at least 50 employees, you may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of job leave with job protection. This requires your employer to offer you your job back or provide an equivalent position.
In the case your employer does not give you your job back, some states allow you to collect unemployment after workers’ comp benefits. You cannot receive unemployment if you voluntarily resign and you cannot collect both types of benefits in their full amount at the same time.
Protect Your Job
If there is a chance your employer will try to fire you because of the fact that you apply for workers’ compensation, it is recommended that you collect any evidence of your work-related injuries or illness. This includes photos, medical bills, related emails, and anything else you may need to support your case in a lawsuit if it comes to that. Consult with a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer in Appleton, WI if you think you’ve been wrongfully let go from your job, especially if it has to do with medical leave.
Thanks to Hickey & Turim, SC for their insight into workers’ compensation claims and how long you can be out of work.