There's a great deal of confusion about what an employer must do when an employee is injured at work. The information below will help you understand your rights in the event an employer doesn't have your best interest in mind or doesn't have work injury protocol in place.
If you feel you're being treated unfairly after a work injury or just want to know what your legal rights are, call (855) 221-COMP to speak with one of our workers comp lawyers now. There's no cost or obligation. You can also fill out our free contact form.
What is my employer's responsibility when I'm hurt at work?
Can I be fired or lose my job for claiming work comp benefits?
Does my employer have to keep my job while I'm on work comp?
Is my job protected under the workers comp law?
Does my employer have to provide me with health insurance?
Can my employer bring me back to work with restrictions?
Q. What is my employer's responsibility when I'm hurt at work?
A. If an employee is hurt at work, an employer must pay workers compensation benefits. The three major benefits under workers compensation are wage loss, medical treatment, and vocational rehabilitation.
However, an employer does not have to keep a job available or continue to pay for health insurance.
Q. Can I be fired or lose my job for claiming work comp benefits?
A. Many of our clients want to know if they can be fired or lose their job when claiming workers compensation benefits. They're concerned about their work restrictions and wonder who else will hire them after an injury. They are afraid of losing their health insurance and how this could affect their family. It is an understatement to say that a work injury can present challenges. This is especially true when an entire family is relying on one individual for financial support.
You cannot be fired just because you received workers compensation benefits.
If you are hurt at work, you get workers compensation benefits regardless of fault. You are entitled to lost wages for as long as you cannot work, unlimited medical treatment and vocational rehabilitation to help you get back to gainful employment.
Q. Does my employer have to keep my job while I'm on work comp?
A. Workers compensation is not a perfect system. It is a compromise of employee and employer interests. Unfortunately, you are not guaranteed to keep your job while you're on workers compensation benefits.
Your employer does not have to keep your job open and can terminate your employment at will. This is common if your work restrictions prevent you from returning to work for an extended period of time.
Many employers will keep your job available but will eventually need to fill your position.
Q. Is my job protected under the workers comp law?
A. There is nothing in the workers compensation law that protects your employment.
But your employer may have other legal obligations under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This is a federal law that protects employees with serious health conditions. Under some circumstances, your job may be protected and your employer must bring you back to work.
You may also be protected by an employment or union contract.
If you believe that you were fired unfairly, it is important to speak with an experienced work comp lawyer to evaluate your situation. Call us at (855) 221-COMP. The call and the advice are free.
Q. Does my employer have to provide me with health insurance?
A. Health insurance and other fringe benefits are not covered by workers compensation. Your employer does not have to provide you with any benefit beyond what is required by the workers compensation law.
You have the right to reasonable and necessary medical treatment for your work injury. This does not mean that your employer must provide you or your family with health insurance.
But if your health insurance is stopped, the cash value of this benefit can be used to increase the amount of lost wages that you can receive. For this reason, many employers will continue to provide health insurance even when they do not have to.
Here's more information on why your employer does not have to provide you with health insurance while on work comp.
Q. Can my employer bring me back to work with restrictions?
A. Sometimes, your employer will bring you back to work with restrictions. This is called "favored work" or "reasonable employment." Your employer does not have to pay you any wage loss benefits if this occurs.
Reasonable employment is work within your capacity to perform that poses no danger to your health and safety, and that is within a reasonable distance from your home. Reasonable employment is not limited to jobs within your qualifications and training.
You must accept an offer of reasonable employment or you risk having your wage loss benefits suspended. The idea is that if you refuse an offer of reasonable employment, you are voluntarily removing yourself from the work force and not entitled to wage loss benefits.
Refusal is not a permanent bar to getting wage loss benefits. Once you make yourself available for work, your entitlement to wage loss benefits resumes. However, you cannot recover any wage loss benefits for the period of time that you previously refused to work.
Some employers will offer you a job that is not exactly within your medical restrictions. Some employers will even offer you a job that is demeaning, like sitting in a chair and watching an empty parking lot. Employers make these offers with the hope that you will not show up for work and forfeit your wage loss benefits. It is very important that you speak with an experienced work comp lawyer to ensure that your legal rights and dignity are protected.
To speak with a Michigan work comp lawyer today, call us at (855) 221-COMP. We've been protecting people injured at work for more than 35 years.
Our attorneys can explain all of your legal rights and answer your questions — at no charge. You can also fill out our free consultation form.