Employee injured at work? Offer FMLA, not just workers' comp.

The workers' compensation system covers work-related injuries. But many employers often overlook the fact that the FMLA also applies in such circumstances. No amount of workers' comp benefits are a substitute for FMLA leave.

The FMLA requires employers to notify eligible employees about their rights to 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave annually. Therefore, when employees go on workers' comp leave, you should let them know about their FMLA rights.

Notifying them about FMLA starts the 12-week clock ticking. If you don't give employees notice, it may prevent them from taking advantage of the time off and, thus, allow them to sue for FMLA interference.

Recent case: Noorjahan, a housekeeper at a Georgia hospital, hurt her knee at work and filed a workers' comp claim. She took just a few days off and transitioned into a light-duty job. Then she was medically cleared to resume her regular job.

But before she could return, Noorjahan had to pass an essential functions test. This involved physical tasks--squats and deep knee bends--that her doctor said she should not perform. After several repetitions, her knee began to hurt. She failed the test and was fired.

Noorjahan sued, alleging she should have been able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave. Since no one told her about FMLA leave when she got hurt, she never had a chance to request it.

The hospital argued it was only obligated to comply with Georgia's workers' comp law when an injury happens at work. However, a federal court disagreed, saying employers must comply with both the FMLA and workers' comp law. (Ramji v. Hospital Housekeeping Systems, 11th Cir.)

Base intermittent FMLA leave on calendar year.

Employees who take FMLA intermittent leave can wreak havoc with work schedules. But there are ways you can legally curtail...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT