If you’ve been injured at work, there’s a possibility that your expenses will be covered by workers’ compensation. However, you could be hesitant to take advantage of the benefits you’re owed. In particular, you might be worried about how using these benefits and taking time off to heal will affect your employment.
A job is likely a critical part of your life. If you like your position, you won’t want to do anything that might jeopardize your future in that role and with your employer. Like many people, you’re probably wondering if you could be fired while taking advantage of workers’ compensation.
Does My Employer Have to Hold My Job While on Workers Comp in North Carolina?
The issue of whether or not an employee’s job will be protected while they recover from injuries on a workers’ comp claim is complex. In general, there is some level of obligation for an employer to hold onto an employee’s job until they are able to return to work. However, there are some limitations to this dynamic, and whether or not your employer will be required to hold onto your job depends on the specifics of your situation.
One element that can impact whether or not your job is held is the type of work you do for your employer. For instance, if it is critical to the function of the business and not something that others can easily fill in on a temporary basis, your employer may be allowed to hire a replacement.
If the business will not be able to function properly, putting others’ jobs at risk, your employer may not be required to hold the job open for the sake of the business and its employees.
Can the Length of My Recovery Period Impact Whether My Job Is Held?
Another element that will impact the decision is time. If your injuries will take a longer time to recover from, your employer may be allowed to terminate your position. The same may be true if the recovery timeline is unclear. They won’t likely be expected to hold your job indefinitely. Generally, the shorter the recovery period is expected to be, the more likely it is that they will be required to hold your position.
Reasonable accommodation is another element involved in these situations. If you can return to work, though not in the same capacity, your employer is required to make reasonable accommodations for you. That said, there is the limitation that this does not cause undue hardship for your employer.
For instance, if you previously worked a position that required significant heavy lifting and you can no longer meet the physical requirements, your employer may not be required to give you a job. They may transfer you to another, less physical position if there is one available. However, they won’t be required to fabricate a new position or put you in a position for which you are unqualified.
Is Being Fired While on Workers’ Comp Considered Wrongful Termination?
While there are these exceptions for being required to hold your job, it’s important to recognize that your employer must be able to describe why they have to terminate you. Your employer is absolutely not allowed to terminate your position just because you have filed a worker’s comp claim.
If that happens, it may be considered a form of retaliation and could be grounds for a wrongful termination claim. If you have concerns about your employment related to a workers’ comp situation, then a workers’ compensation lawyer may be able to help you understand your options.
Q: What Happens if You Quit Your Job While on Workers’ Comp?
A: The impact of quitting your job while on workers’ compensation can be nuanced and situation-specific. Generally, there is a strong possibility that voluntarily leaving your position will cause you to lose the disability benefits that cover a portion of your wages, although you will typically continue to have the medical costs covered. However, the reason you quit may have an impact on the situation as well, so it’s important to discuss the situation with an attorney.
Q: What if Your Employer Cannot Accommodate the Restrictions That You Have?
A: In some cases, it could be that your employer hasn’t considered all options, and you may be able to make a suggestion to them. In other situations, it may be necessary to file a complaint for your employer to recognize accommodations that could be made. However, there are also times when the employer’s denial is reasonable, and you may need to seek a different employment option. A lawyer can help you understand the options in your situation.
Q: What Does Workers’ Comp Cover?
A: Workers’ compensation will cover a number of different costs related to a workplace injury. The primary costs that will be covered are any medical costs related to the injury, a portion of your average weekly wages through the form of various categories of disability payments, and, if your injury is serious enough to require a new career, vocational rehabilitation.
Q: What Does a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Do?
A: A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you navigate the complex paperwork and bureaucracy associated with workers’ comp, as well as advocate for you and represent you in any related legal proceedings. They can also help you understand what options you have if you’ve been terminated or want to quit while on workers’ comp.
Get the Workers’ Comp Benefits You Need From M. Reid Acree, Jr., Attorney at Law
If you’ve been injured at work, the most important thing is that you obtain both the medical coverage and paid recovery time you need. Furthermore, it’s critical that you be given every chance you’re owed to keep your employment. Your strongest opportunity to get everything you need in these situations is by working with a North Carolina workers’ comp lawyer.
These situations can sometimes be complex, and it’s critical that you work with someone who has a depth of understanding regarding the law and the workers’ compensation process. If you need workers’ comp benefits and are also hoping to preserve your position, contact us today to discuss your case.