Workers Compensation and FMLA - Are You Confused?
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 provides job protection benefits to eligible employees who need time away from work for their own serious health condition or to care for covered family members with a serious health condition. The law applies to employers with 50 or more employees and allows an eligible employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period of time.
Almost every state has a workers compensation law which guarantees income or wage replacement to an employee who is injured on the job. In Ohio lost wages can come from a self insured employer, or the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Ohio is monopolistic state fund which provides the injured worker who has lost eight or more days of work to be compensated for their lost wages as a percentage of their actual wages with limitations.
The Relationship between the Two…
So how does workers compensation interact with FMLA, since workers’ compensation is not necessarily considered a leave law? For FMLA purposes employers must remember injuries occurring on the job or which are considered ‘workers compensation claims’ are not precluded as being serious health conditions under FMLA. On the job injuries requiring inpatient or ongoing treatment and/or determined to be a “serious health condition” under the DOL FMLA regulations should be considered as FMLA. The circumstances and medical information for each case must be carefully reviewed to determine if the definition of serious health condition is met under the DOL guidelines.
If the definition of serious health condition is met, it is imperative the employer check the employee’s eligibility for FMLA. To be eligible for FMLA, the employee must have worked 1250 hours in the 12 months from the date preceding the leave; AND worked at least 12 months with the employer in past 7 years; AND have available FMLA hours. If the employee meets the eligibility criteria the employer is required to notify the employee in writing the leave will be designated as FMLA and will be counted toward the employee’s 12 week FMLA entitlement.
One of the most common mistakes employers make is failing to run the workers’ compensation and FMLA concurrently.
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