Clients often ask if their job is protected while out on workers’ compensation. The answer is yes and no.
Your job is protected, but not because you were hurt at work. Instead, it’s because of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Workers’ compensation law does not provide any job protection for work injuries. Your job is no more secure from a work-related injury than it is from a medical condition that arises outside of work.
The criteria for protection of your job is found in the FMLA. The law requires the following:
- You must be working for a company with 50 or more employees.
- You must have worked there for more than 1 year and have worked more than 1250 hours in the year.
- Have a serious health condition that lasts at least 3 days and requires at least 1 visit to a medical provider
If you meet the above criteria, you have job protection for 12 weeks per year. This applies to all health conditions, both work-related and non-work related, and to situations where you need to care for a loved one with a medical condition.
So, if you are injured on the job and you are out of work for more than the 12 weeks of protection afforded by the FMLA can you be fired? The answer is yes. Just because you are out of work because of a work-related injury, you are not afforded any greater job protection than what is provided by the FMLA.
Since the FMLA and workers’ compensation law are two different laws, even if you are fired your Temporary Compensation checks will continue because of the requirement set forth in the Compensation Law that Temporary Disability shall continue until the worker is released from care regardless of their employment status.
Workers should be aware of the interplay between these two laws so they can best protect their jobs after a work-related injury. Delays in treatment often put a worker’s job at risk without the worker even knowing.
For example, a knee injury that requires surgery can take up to 6 to 8 weeks before the worker can return to work. If the insurance company drags its feet providing authorization or requiring 4 to 6 weeks of pre surgical PT, that worker may run out of job protection before their treatment is completed thereby placing their job at risk. Be aware of time limits and always consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer.
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At Levinson Axelrod, P.A. we have a team of award-winning attorneys that includes highly experienced lawyers who are certified in Workers’ Compensation and Civil Trial Law by the New Jersey Supreme Court. With years of experience in this field, we can help you understand your rights and protections after suffering a work-related injury and provide the support and representation you need to navigate the claim process.
If you have questions about a potential workers’ compensation case, we’re here to help. Call (732) 440-3089 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.