Is There an Overlap of Workers’ Compensation and FMLA?
Many workers who are injured on the job and absent from work due to their injuries question what type of leave they are entitled to. Workers’ Compensation provides injured employees with a percentage of lost wages and cost of medical treatment when the injury or illness results from job duties. FMLA, or the Family and Medical Leave Act, is required of certain employers and provides unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks for a medical condition – as well as for the time needed to care for an ill family member. The short answer is that in some cases these benefits can in fact run concurrently, but it is important to understand the basic differences.
Differences Between the Two Benefits
Workers’ Compensation coverage is for employees who are hurt or become ill while performing their work duties. It can be an acute injury caused by a work accident or a repetitive injury or disease that developed over time. Workers must file a claim through their employer’s procedures. If they are temporarily unable to work while they are recovering, they will receive a percentage of their lost wages as well as medical costs. Workers’ Compensation is time-limited, and the employer also has the right to access the employee’s medical records as part of their claim.
Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) benefits require certain employers to provide unpaid leave for a total of 12 weeks. Some employers require employees to use up their paid time off first – for example, sick or vacation time – and the employee’s job is protected while they are out on leave. However, only those employers with more than 50 employees are required to offer FMLA, and the worker must have accumulated more than 1250 work hours during the previous 12 months. FMLA leave is most often thought of for medical leave such as pregnancy or serious illness and can also be used to care for a sick immediate family member. FMLA does not allow the employer to access the treated employee’s medical provider directly – unlike Workers’ Compensation.
There are cases where an employee can be eligible for both. Because the situation is not always clear to an injured worker, the advice of a skilled Workers’ Compensation lawyer is highly recommended to ensure the employee’s rights are protected. Workers’ Compensation is an entitlement that provides benefits including payment for time off, but it does not provide specific leave time. And in some states, Workers’ Compensation does not provide specific job protection benefits, unlike FMLA.
Employers are required when a situation using both types of leave may arise to provide whichever type of leave gives more comprehensive benefits to the injured employee. Companies cannot insist that an injured worker use FMLA time if they are eligible for Workers’ Compensation coverage due to their workplace injury. Employers should have clear written policies in place to prepare for this type of situation. It is critical to know and understand your rights with the guidance of a Wilmington attorney with experience in Workers’ Compensation and FMLA law.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann & Wall, LLC Advocate on Behalf of Injured Workers
The skilled Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at McCann & Wall, LLC fight for workers injured on the job to secure the maximum benefits they deserve. We have a long record of success representing clients in Wilmington, Dover, Newark, and Middletown, Delaware. Please contact us for a free initial consultation at 302-888-1221 or complete our online contact form.