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Can family and medical leave apply to workers' compensation?

Federal and Connecticut laws protect injured workers. According to the Office of Legislative Research, an employer can consider an injured workers' absence from employment as family and medical leave under the state and federal Family and Medical Leave Acts if the reason for the absence meets FMLA requirements.

FMLA regulations allow the employer or the worker to allow the FMLA leave to run simultaneously as a workers' compensation absence when the injury is a serious health injury under FMLA. A serious health injury is defined as an injury, impairment or physical or mental condition involving ongoing treatment by a healthcare practioner at a hospital or similar facility. Normally, a work-related injury under workers' compensation that keeps an employee home from work qualifies as a serious health condition.

An employer cannot charge a worker for paid sick leave or any other type of employee compensation for time off when the employer or worker makes a workers' compensation a family and medical leave. The employer must provide written notification to an employee if workers' compensation time is designated as FMLA time.

The Workers' Compensation Commission also advises workers' compensation recipients that taking FMLA leave with workers' compensation allows workers to keep health benefits. Federal law requires employers to keep employees covered under company-provided health insurance when the employees are absent from work under workers' compensation. However, federal and state laws do not require private-sector employers to continue this coverage under workers' compensation. Public employees may still keep health coverage under workers' compensation.

Both FMLA laws also afford more job protection. Under the FMLA laws, employers must allow employees to return to their jobs when their leave is concluded. This requirement does not govern specified high-paid and essential employees or employees who would have been laid off even if they did not take leave. For example, this exception applies when a workers' entire plant or unit is closed.

Workers' compensation law, on the other hand, affords no job protection if an employee left work because of an injury. However, employers cannot discriminate against workers for filing workers' compensation claims.

This illustrates that legal assistance can help wokers protect their rights and receive entitled benefits. Prompt legal advice may also assist work accident victim with determining options under numerous federal and state laws.

Source: OLR Research Report, "Family and medical leave and workers' compensation," Assessed March 1, 2015

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Law Offices of James L. O'Rourke

Stratford Office
1825 Barnum Avenue, Suite 201
Stratford, CT 06614

Toll Free: 800-658-1245
Phone: 203-864-4427
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