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Workers Compensation and the Family Medical Leave Act

Employers may require employees who are out on workers’ compensation leave to provide a medical certification to designate the leave as covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA is a federal law that provides employees with “serious health conditions” up to 12 weeks of job-protected but unpaid leave (10 weeks under the state law). If you are eligible for FMLA leave, your employer cannot terminate you within this time. There are advantages to both the employer and the employee to designating leave as covered under the FMLA. The advantage to the employer is that it gets to “start the clock.” If you are unable to return to work after your leave is up, your employer can terminate you without violating the FMLA. If that happens, you may have additional rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act which prohibits employers from discriminating against injured workers for making workers’ compensation claims. The advantage to the employee is that your job is protected for those 12 weeks. Under the federal law, your employer must also maintain your health insurance, though you must continue to pay your share of the premiums. Under state law, your employer must maintain your health insurance but can transfer the entire cost of the premium to you.