The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to job-protected leave for certain qualifying reasons. FMLA allows these eligible employees to take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period and protects the employee’s job during this time.
At the end of the leave, an employer must return the employee to their original job or its equivalent after that employee comes back from dealing with a serious health condition, for example. But employers may get the actions of the FMLA confused with how Workers’ compensation works, and rightfully so.
While both FMLA leave and workers’ compensation may run consecutively, an employer must inform the employee in writing that the leave is either FMLA-based or workers’ comp.
Here’s a better look at the differences between FMLA and workers’ compensation.
Reasons for FMLA & Workers’ Comp
Unpaid FMLA leave must be granted to an eligible employee for any of the following qualifying reasons:
- For the birth of a child, and to care for the newborn.
- To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent, who has a serious health condition.
- For placement with the employee of a child for adoption, and to care for the newly placed child.
- For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their job.
Workers’ compensation, on the other hand, provides for health care and income replacement. It doesn’t specifically provide for job protection. Some workers’ compensation provisions in certain states do provide for job protection. In return for these benefits, laws around workers’ compensation usually indicate that employees give up their right to sue their employers for work-related injuries.
Mixing Work Comp and FMLA
It’s no surprise that there could be some confusion in trying to see the difference between FMLA and workers’ compensation provisions. However, in some cases, the two options do overlap. For instance, an employee may suffer a workplace injury or illness that is considered a serious health condition under the FMLA as well as workers’ compensation. If this is the case, the laws’ provisions can run concurrently. Essentially, an employee may be off work receiving their mandated workers’ compensation benefits, and the time off is counted against their applicable 12-week FMLA-entitled job protection.
In these situations, employers must provide leave under whichever law provides the greater rights and benefits to employees. Employers cannot require an employee to take time off work under FMLA instead of workers’ compensation if the person’s injury makes them eligible for the benefits of workers’ compensation.
An Employer’s Role in Work-Related Injuries
The practice of employers requiring their employees to use FMLA to take some time off work if they are hurt on the job is legal. Under certain state and federal FMLA laws, an employer can count an employee’s time off on workers’ compensation as family and medical leave as long as the employee in question is off work for a reason that falls under FMLA requirements.
However, an employer has to do its due diligence before making such a decision to make sure they aren’t allowing an employee to use the benefits they may be eligible for because of laws surrounding workers’ compensation.
About InsureMyWorkComp & Their Workers Comp Solutions
InsureMyWorkComp is a digital brokerage that helps clients find the right workers’ compensation solution for their business needs, such as occupational accident insurance. Unlike other online platforms, we will help you to work with an agent who can provide you the right solution for your risk profile. Our staff has over 50 years of workers’ compensation underwriting and sales experience, and we are confident that we will provide you the support that you need. For more information or to get a quote, contact us today at (855) 340-9138.