Work and Non-Work Related Injuries in Employment Settings
Missing WorkMost injuries require an employee to miss at least a few days of work. Serious injuries often require someone to miss an extended period of time. Depending on the size of the employer, there are protections for missing work due to a serious medical condition. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take medical leave to care for their own serious medical condition if they qualify and if the employer is covered.
However, not all employees qualify and not all employers are covered. Accordingly, it is important to understand your rights with respect to taking time off from work as a result of an injury, work or non-work related. For shorter periods of time off, many employees are able to use vacation and sick leave. Regardless of the length of leave, an employee should consult with the employer about leave related rights. Employers and employees should also document injuries and days off work.
Losing IncomeAs a result of missing work, many employees are concerned about losing income. Many state sponsored programs provide an offset to an employee's lost wages as a result of an injury. Employees are, therefore, encouraged to review their rights when being forced to miss work.
As stated above, an employee may also be able to use vacation or sick days to ease the burden of lost income. However, employees often have to balance recovering from an injury and losing income as a result of not working. Despite concerns about lost income, an employee should focus on recovery in order to return to work without complications.
Medical ExpensesFor those with workers' compensation, medical expenses are far less of a concern. In cases not covered by workers' compensation, medical expenses may be covered by an employer, an employee's medical plan, or state sponsored programs. Unfortunately, medical expenses are often necessary in order to ensure the employee receives adequate care in order to recover and return to work. Employees should confer with their employer and applicable state to determine if coverage assistance is provided.
Upsetting the EmployerMany employees are concerned about taking leave to care for an injury because of a fear of upsetting their employer. Specifically, an employee may worry that reporting an injury or taking time off will impact the employee's future employment.
Many state and federal laws protect employees from being retaliated against for taking leave or reporting workplace injuries. However, the fear of reporting an injury still prevents many individuals from reporting injuries, or taking time off. While the fear is reasonable, employees are wise to report injuries in order to obtain proper care and treatment and to return to work healthy.