Your employee claims to be injured while on the job. Although you may have doubts, as an employer in a state where workers’ rights and workers’ compensation are strictly regulated and enforced, what can you do? To deny the employee’s claim or challenge the validity of their injury could place you and your company at risk for a drawn-out legal battle. What’s more, an employer must provide workers’ compensation claim forms to the employee within one working day of receiving notice of the injury to the employee, so delaying is generally not an advisable course of (in)action.
Workers Comp Basics
If your employee is injured on the job, they typically must report the injury to you within 30 days. Your workers’ compensation insurance will provide benefits such as temporary disability, medical expenses and permanent disability award, if appropriate, based on the long-term effects of the injury. Workers comp insurance can be costly, but generally cannot be avoided; California law requires employers to have workers’ compensation insurance if they have one or more employees.
Fortunately, in many claims involving workplace injuries, the employer may designate the treating physician (for at least the first 30 days following an injury). Ideally, this physician will be able to provide you with an unbiased report of the employee’s injuries, allowing you and your legal counsel to determine best next steps. If your insurer has selected one or more Medical Provider Networks to treat your employee’s work-related injuries, you must provide additional information to your employees.
Workers Comp Leave
If the employee’s claim is not denied, you must be prepared for the next issue: workers comp leave. When it comes to leave, a California employer needs to not only consider the employee’s workers compensation claim, but also needs to evaluate how that claim interacts with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), California Family Rights Act (CFRA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The extent to which private sector employers are subject to these state and federal laws varies according to the size of the employer. Virtually all employers, however, are covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Covered employers often have multiple (and sometimes overlapping) obligations under one or more of these laws. For example, an employee who suffers a workplace injury may be entitled to leave under the Workers’ Compensation Act that also qualifies as medical leave under the FMLA and CFRA. Therefore, depending on the nature of the illness or injury, the extent to which an employer must continue to provide leave beyond the 12 workweeks required by the FMLA and CFRA is governed by both workers’ comp law and, potentially, its obligation to provide leave as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA and FEHA.
Questions about this? Feel free to contact experienced business lawyer Drew E Pomerance today.