You can get both FMLA and workers’ compensation benefits at the same time in Pennsylvania. However, you must meet certain qualifications to get both of these types of benefits. The requirements are different, and you will likely get more benefits out of one compared to the other.
FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), for example, is generally unpaid leave that is often related to a medical condition or serious health condition, but it does not necessarily have to be a work-related injury. Workers’ compensation covers some of your lost wages and medical expenses, but the requirements are much more stringent.
FMLA vs. Workers’ Comp: What’s the Difference?
FMLA stands for the Family and Medical Leave Act. It is designed to help those who have been injured or are sick or who have loved ones who need care because of an injury or sickness. It provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if you meet certain qualifications.
Workers’ compensation benefits, on the other hand, are specifically designed for those who have been injured at work. There is no qualification that the serious medical condition or injury is work-related for FMLA leave.
Workers who have been injured at work use workers’ compensation and FMLA at the same time so they can get lost wage and medical benefits, while also ensuring that they have a job to come back to after they heal from their work injuries.
While an employer cannot fire you for filing workers’ comp, they do not have to hold your job for you just because you are getting workers comp benefits. With FMLA, however, eligible employees have the right to come back to work in either the same job or a similar job with comparable pay and benefits.
FMLA Qualifications at a Glance
FMLA allows workers to leave work for up to 12 weeks to address their own or a family member’s health issues. This leave is unpaid. Common reasons that workers use FMLA include things like:
- Managing a chronic illness or health condition
- Adopting a child
- Caring for an ill family member
FMLA also only applies to certain employers. If your employer does not have at least 50 employees, for example, then FMLA rights are often not available to you. Work requirements to qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act include:
- Working for the same employer for at least 12 months
- Working at least 1,250 hours over the previous year
FMLA is used almost exclusively to hold your job if you have to leave for a medical or similar reason. There are no monetary benefits for your injuries like there would be if you were injured at work. However, your medical condition does not have to arise out of or be related to work at all to take advantage of FMLA benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Qualifications
In Pennsylvania, virtually every employer must have workers’ compensation insurance so that benefits are available to workers if they are hurt at work. That means that even smaller employers must have this type of coverage.
Benefits of workers’ compensation include things like:
- Medical benefits or reimbursement for expenses for medical care related to your work injury
- Lost wages while you recover
- Payments for your permanent impairment or disability
- Working options while you are confined to light duty during recovery (unlike FMLA, which does not require the employer to give you light duty options)
Workers’ compensation is used in addition to your own health insurance coverage. You should not have to pay any out of pocket expenses for your medical care related to your injury.
What if My Employer Forces Me to Take FMLA?
Your employer can designate your time away from work as FMLA leave, even if you ask them not to do so. It is technically legal for your employer to require that you use your FMLA benefits, even if you are getting workers’ compensation benefits at the same time.
Being forced to use your FMLA benefits does not undermine the benefits that you should receive under workers’ compensation, however. If you want to use workers’ compensation, but your employer has designated your leave as FMLA without giving you work comp benefits after a work injury, then there is a problem. Your employer cannot designate FMLA leave and ignore your work comp rights.
If you want workers’ compensation payments in addition to your FMLA benefits, you need to be sure that you report your work injury to your employer. Make it clear that you believe your medical condition or injury occurred at work or is related to work.
Worried About What to Say? Speak to a Workers Compensation Attorney
If you are unsure how to request benefits or what your rights are, get helpful legal advice from the experienced team at Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo.
We’re fully versed in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law, and our expertise can help you get health benefits in addition to using your FMLA rights if you suffered a work injury. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your workplace injury.