Vacation time and sick time are considered “wage continuation” and generally not recoverable under Michigan workers’ comp law.
Our clients frequently want to know if they have to use vacation time if they are out because of a work related injury. This concern arises when they get hurt on-the-job and miss a small amount of time away from work. It does not seem fair when they must use accumulated time off instead of getting lost wages under workers’ comp. Here is some information that is useful for employees to know about their legal rights.
An employee must be disabled for at least 1 week before any lost wages are paid under workers’ comp. A week is 7 consecutive days and includes weekends. Missing 2 weeks or more due to a work related injury results in payment going back to the very first missed day. Disabled employees can expect payment approximately 2 weeks from the start of entitlement. Checks are not considered late until 30 days past due. It is possible to seek penalties for late wage loss checks up to a maximum of $1,500.
Do I have to use vacation time if I’m out because of a work related injury?
You don’t have to use vacation time or sick time if you are out because of a work related injury. However, if you are living paycheck-to-paycheck and miss less than 7 days of work you may want to use vacation or sick pay to help bridge the gap. Unfortunately, it generally cannot be recouped under workers’ comp.
Some employers also voluntarily pay wage continuation. This happens when an employee still gets paid his or her regular wages despite not working. This typically results in a higher amount since workers’ comp only pays 80% of the after-tax average weekly wage. Insurance companies get a credit for wage continuation that is paid by the employer. Disabled employees cannot double dip and get both wage continuation as well as workers’ comp.
Vacation and sick pay can also be coordinated in a similar fashion. Payment for vacation time or sick time while unable to work due to a work related injury is considered a form of wage continuation. This is permitted even if coming from a bank of earned time that has been accumulated over a period of years.
Many employers require disabled employees to use vacation time or sick time if the work related injury is disputed. Disabled employees who have missed more than 2 weeks of work can seek reimbursement for these lost wages. It is also sometimes possible to have vacation and sick time restored through a negotiated agreement.
Do I have to use vacation time if I’m out because of a work related injury? In many disputed claims the answer will be yes, you do have to use vacation time if you are out because of a work related injury because vacation and sick time are considered wage continuation under Michigan workers’ comp law. Make sure to contact an experienced workers’ comp lawyer to evaluate your individual situation. It is possible to get vacation or sick pay back.
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