Can you receive workers’ comp benefits while on vacation or taking personal time?
If you were recently injured at work, your first instinct might be to use your available vacation or personal time until you recover. But let’s face it, healing from an injury or illness is no vacation. It’s understandable that you want to get paid; however, using earned time actually causes an additional loss.
Typically, your workers’ compensation benefits equal two-thirds of gross wages. While this payment is meant to equal your post-tax take-home income, injured workers often still receive slightly less than their regular take-home pay.
Because of this, you may want to cover the difference by using vacation or sick leave for your work-related injury. Some employers even ask their employees to use their accrued time before they can begin receiving workers’ comp benefits.
This can be a tricky situation, depending on the specifics of your case. Questions may linger about your options to maintain a steady income during your recovery period. Further complicating matters is if your company’s policy uses flex time for vacation or sickness.
Speaking with a workers’ compensation attorney can help clear up any confusion, particularly if your employer argues that vacation pay represents a continuation of your wages.
Does workers’ compensation pay for missed work?
Major disruptions to your health and finances can occur after an injury or illness at work. Additionally, concerns about your well-being and the status of your career can seem overwhelming.
When you miss work, some of the financial loss can be regained. Through the workers’ compensation system, you are entitled to receive weekly benefit payments if the injury keeps you from work for more than 7 days.
Generally, you should receive the first check within 21 days after the first day of missed work after the injury or illness. This is reassuring once your claim is approved. However, there are still concerns about filling the gap while you wait for payments to begin.
Can I go on vacation while on workers’ comp?
Going on vacation while on workers’ compensation isn’t expressly prohibited. However, traveling with an open claim may complicate your case in a number of ways. The type of trip and your individual circumstances are important considerations. A workers’ comp attorney can help you decide if a vacation is the best choice right now.
In some cases, an insurance company may want to discredit your injury. Going on vacation opens you up to the argument that you should be able to work if you can travel.
Another potential issue is missing scheduled medical appointments. Taking a long trip that disrupts your medical care can raise doubts about the seriousness of your injury. A brief trip that doesn’t interfere with your treatment plan is less likely to be an issue.
The most important thing to consider before taking a vacation is the advice and recommendations from your medical provider. Ignoring your doctor’s warning to avoid certain behaviors—such as mountain climbing, for instance—is not advisable and could lead to your claim being denied if the insurance company finds out about it.
Can I be compensated for lost vacation days or personal time?
You shouldn’t have to use your vacation, personal or sick leave for a work-related injury or illness. The sole purpose of Georgia’s workers’ compensation law is to help injured workers.
Issues of financial recovery shouldn’t interfere with your physical recovery. Although your workers’ comp claim pays a percentage of your weekly wages, some situations might require using your earned time off, such as if the insurance company denies your claim.
When you have a legitimate injury, you shouldn’t delay getting medical care while waiting for an appeal. In this case, using your personal time for a doctor’s appointment or recovery may be necessary. However, it’s possible to be reimbursed for that time once your case is proven.
Can my employer force me to use my personal days or vacation time when I’m out of work for a job-related injury or illness?
No. Your employer can’t require you to use any of your personal time or vacation days before your benefits start. Your employer shouldn’t force you to use any earned time to receive treatment after an injury or illness that you suffered on the job.
One exception is if you are unable to work for fewer than 7 days. Since workers’ comp kicks in after 7 days, you may want to use your time to cover those missed days.
Talk with your attorney if your employer wants to force you to use your paid time off for medical treatment. It is important that your rights are protected.
When should I consult a workers’ compensation attorney?
Deciding to take vacation days during an unresolved workers’ compensation claim shouldn’t jeopardize your case. Nevertheless, knowing how Georgia’s law pertains to your case can be tricky to navigate.
Traveling while you are recovering from a work-related injury may or may not hinder your case. Because each circumstance is different, consulting with a workers’ compensation attorney can help to clear up any confusion.
While the insurance company looks for evidence of fraud, your attorney will work on your behalf to ensure your right to full compensation is protected.