What disabled employees in Michigan need to know about FMLA and workers’ comp.
Many of our clients want to know if their job is protected after getting hurt at work. The situation becomes even more confusing when an employer tells a disabled employee to take time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Our clients are confused because they do not understand FMLA and workers’ comp law.
Most people assume that their jobs will be protected under FMLA and workers’ comp after getting hurt at work. This is a real concern for employees who are temporarily disabled and want to eventually return to gainful employment. It is not always easy finding a new job within a person’s skills and qualifications.
This is not technically correct as an employer does not have to keep a job open for an employee who is disabled and unavailable to work. To help alleviate any confusion below we discuss what FMLA and workers’ comp is and answer the question if they can be used concurrently.
What is FMLA?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that entitles eligible employees to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for family or medical reasons. During this time off, the employee is guaranteed job protection and continuation of group health insurance coverage.
Not everyone qualifies so it is important to speak with an employment attorney to find out legal rights. A separate cause of action might exist if improperly denied this time off.
What is Workers’ Comp?
Workers’ comp is based upon state law (Michigan) and provides benefits to employees who are hurt on-the-job. Lost wages, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation are covered.
Wage loss benefits should be paid for as long as the injured employee is disabled. The amount should equal 80% of an employee’s after-tax average weekly wage. This is based upon the highest 39 paid weeks in the 52 weeks before the workplace accident.
Nothing in the workers’ comp law protects an employee’s job. However, the law allows an employer to offer “reasonable employment” or “favored work” instead of paying wage loss benefits. If the injured worker refuses this employment, wage loss benefits can be suspended.
Can FMLA and Workers’ Comp Run Currently?
Yes, FMLA and workers’ comp can run concurrently in Michigan. Many employers insist this and there is nothing illegal about this practice, but it does mean that the employee will have overlapping legal rights and protections.
We recommend cooperating with the employer and making sure any requirements for FMLA have been satisfied. This will ensure some limited job protection while on workers’ comp.
Michigan law prohibits an employer from firing or in any way discriminating against an employee who exercises a right under workers’ comp. This includes unfair performance reviews, harassment, changes to job duties, demotion, salary reduction, negative references, and unwarranted disciplinary action. Simply asking for either lost wages or medical treatment could be enough to trigger protection. Firing an employee because he or she filed a workers’ comp case is against the law. Call an experienced lawyer if this occurs.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 316-8033 for a free consultation today.