Recent legislation at both the federal and state levels, has brought about a renewed focus on the ways that FMLA requirements impacts an employer’s workers compensation policy. Questions about the leave to which a worker is entitled and the accommodations an employer must provide, have caused confusion for many employers. This article explores 5 common questions about FMLA and Worker's comp and links to a resource you can use for reference.
1) Can FMLA and Workers comp run concurrently?
Yes - if the injury constitutes a "serious health condition" under FMLA, then an employee receiving workers’ compensation benefits may be concurrently on FMLA leave. The employer must state that the FMLA leave, and worker’s compensation are running concurrently when they notify the employee of their FLMA rights and, the employer must maintain the employee’s group health coverage on the same terms that were in force prior to the leave.
2) Is my Injured Worker required to accept the light-duty position offered to them?
No - however, the employee may lose their workers compensation benefits as a result. The employees FLMA protections are not affected if they choose not to accept the offered light-duty position.
3) If an employee does not return to work at the end of an unpaid FMLA, may an employer recover its share of health plan premiums?
Yes - if the employee is off work for unpaid FMLA leave and does not return, the employer may recover its share of premiums. However, if the employee is off for Workers Comp and FMLA at the same time, it is considered paid leave and the employer may not recover its share of premiums.
4) If an employee is out for Workers Comp and FMLA concurrently, and the FMLA runs out, do they still have the right to return to their job?
No – FMLA only protects an employee’s position for 12 weeks in a 12-month period. If the employee is unable to return to work after FMLA leave entitlement has run out, the employer is not required to hold the position for them. However, there may be additional protections available to the employee under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the workers compensation statute.
5) Can an employee use accrued vacation time to supplement Workers Comp and FMLA benefits?
Yes (subject to state-specific legislation) - paid leave may supplement the workers compensation benefits for instance in cases where workers comp only covers 2/3 of an employee's salary. Employees may elect (or employers may require) to use accrued vacation time or PTO when workers compensation benefits cease (for instance if an employee declines a light-duty job).
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For more information about FMLA and Workers Comp