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Workers’ Compensation and Medical Leave

If a worker is injured on the job, he or she may consider using a medical leave instead of filing a workers’ compensation claim. But without knowing the difference between family medical leave and filing for workers’ comp, the injured employee could do more damage to themselves in the long run financially.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles an eligible employee up to a total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period because of a serious health condition. An employee may elect, or the employer may require, the employee to substitute accrued paid vacation, personal leave, or sick leave during this period of time. When the employee returns to work, the employer must return the worker to his former position or an equivalent position, with equivalent employee benefits. Usually, when an employee takes FMLA leave, he or she does not get paid. The employee may elect to use vacation pay, sick pay, or paid time off if the employee has earned these benefits.

If an injured worker takes Family Medical Leave, but finds that he or she cannot return to work after the 12 weeks expire, generally the employer is not obligated to rehire the worker at a later date. In these types of cases, the employer is not required to hold the job open indefinitely.


It’s important to notify your employer immediately in the event that you are injured at work. Waiting to report an injury or trying to handle things on your own can cause more problems for you and your family. It’s also important to consult with an attorney who is familiar with the in’s and out’s of the workers’ compensation system. That’s where Michael J. O’Connor & Associates can help. Call us for a free consultation and review of your case.