FMLA and Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
You have probably heard that the United States is one of the few high-income countries with no federally mandated paid maternity leave. While some employers allow employees to take paid time off after the birth of a child, the only federal protection is the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). FMLA allows all employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave because of their own illness or injury or that of a close family member. The employer cannot fire you during your FMLA leave and must allow you to return to your job after your leave ends, making reasonable accommodations if you request them. All kinds of illnesses and injuries qualify for FMLA, regardless of whether they occurred at work. Therefore, if you get injured at work, you are entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim and also to take FMLA leave. Which one should you do, or should you do both? It depends on the situation, and what is best for you is not always what is best for your employer. FMLA leave can be a point of contention in workers’ compensation disputes. If your employer is pressuring you to take unpaid FMLA leave when you could be receiving paid leave through workers’ comp, contact a South Florida workers’ compensation lawyer.
How FMLA Can Help Employees Who Get Injured at Work
FMLA is a protection against losing your job; it requires your employer to give you your job back after you finish your FMLA leave. Although you do not receive your salary during your FMLA leave, your employer-provided health insurance continues. This means that you can use your health insurance to pay for treatment of the injury. This option is certainly less expensive than paying for your treatment out of pocket, but as everyone who has ever received a surprise medical bill knows, the cost of treatment for a serious injury can be financially ruinous, even if you have health insurance. The silver lining, though, is that you get to choose your own in-network doctors.
Is FMLA a Last Resort for Work Injuries?
Since FMLA is unpaid leave and you are responsible for the post-insurance portion of your medical bills, shouldn’t you file a workers’ compensation claim instead of taking FMLA leave? Your employer has a legal obligation to carry workers’ compensation insurance and to use it to pay for the treatment of your work-related injury; you need not prove negligence on the employer’s part in order to receive workers’ comp. If you need to miss work because of your injury, you can receive up to two thirds of your salary through workers’ comp. It is possible for workers’ comp leave (where you get paid a portion of your salary) and FMLA leave (where your employer can’t fire you) to run concurrently.
Let Us Help You Today
A Sunrise workers’ compensation lawyer can help you if your employer is only thinking about their own bottom line and pressuring you to take FMLA leave instead of paying your workers’ compensation claim. Contact the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld for more information.