It is often surprising for our clients to learn that in the absence of a union or employment contract an employer generally does not have to hold your position for you after an injury. It has been our experience that each employer has a different way of treating injured workers. The better employers will make every effort to hold your position and accommodate whatever restrictions you may need. Other employers may fill your position immediately due to production needs and may make no effort to bring you back. Each employer also treats your entitlement to other benefits, such as health insurance, very differently when you are off, so it is important to discuss this with your employer from the beginning.
If you are let go while out recuperating from a work injury, the workers’ compensation insurance company has to continue paying for your wage loss and medical benefits, even though you are no longer employed. Also, if you are back to work with restrictions, but then are laid off, the workers’ compensation insurance company should reinstate your wage loss benefits immediately, even if your employer lays off many people or goes out of business completely.
This is particularly important to know in tough economic times, when injured workers are oftentimes the first victims of lay-offs. Following an accepted work injury, you will have medical coverage for that injury through the workers’ compensation insurance carrier regardless of whether your job remains available to you, even if you change jobs.
If you have been injured at work, it is important that you do not take any steps to voluntarily quit or accept a voluntary lay-off, as this will affect your ability to collect wage loss benefits. In addition, if you have had a work injury, sometimes an employer or supervisor will make your return to work with restrictions uncomfortable to try to entice you to quit, which is something you should never do.