Workers’ Compensation and FMLA are both benefits available for workers in Los Angeles. While these two programs have some similarities and the leave may run concurrently, there are significant differences. Keep reading to learn more about how these programs work for employees hurt on the job in Los Angeles.
If you have concerns about your case, a Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyer may be able to help.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation in California
California law requires most businesses to provide their employees with workers’ compensation coverage. Businesses can purchase these policies through a private insurance company or the State Compensation Insurance Fund. Workers’ compensation coverage provides benefits that help workers recover from workplace injuries and return to work.
When an employee suffers an on-the-job injury or becomes ill due to workplace exposure, they should qualify for benefits that include:
Workers’ comp benefits pay for the necessary medical treatment and care for workplace injury or illness. This includes assessments, tests, hospitalization, treatment, prescription drugs, follow-up care, therapy, and more.
Wage Loss Payments
Workers’ comp pays a portion of a worker’s usual income when they are out of work due to their injuries or illness. Workers’ comp provides two general categories of wage loss payments:
- Temporary disability benefits
- Permanent disability benefits
The amounts of these benefits depend on the worker’s usual income and other factors.
Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits
Some workers receive supplemental vouchers to help pay for school, retraining, or other learning opportunities if their injuries prevent them from returning to their previous job or field.
Families of workers who died from their injuries can receive death benefit payments.
FMLA: A Federal Law That Entitles Employees to Job Protection Benefits
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, better known as FMLA, provides job protection benefits when a worker must be away from work because of their own illness or injury, to care for an ailing family member, or deal with other certain family issues. This leave is unpaid, but the employer must continue any group health insurance benefits and ensure the worker has a job to return to after recovering.
FMLA only applies to very specific family and medical concerns. When an employee has a qualifying event, they could take up to 12 work weeks of leave per year. The circumstances that could support FMLA leave include:
- The birth of a child (for either parent)
- Adopting or fostering a child
- Caring for a spouse, parent, or child with a serious health concern
- Treating a health condition that makes them unable to perform their job
- Issues related to an active duty family member (if they are a spouse, child, or parent)
- Caring for a spouse, child, or parent who is an injured service member (this may qualify for up to six months of leave in a year)
Significant Differences Between FMLA and Workers’ Compensation
It is FMLA’s coverage if “care for a health condition that makes them unable to perform their job” which causes confusion over workers’ compensation and FMLA. While they sound like they might both cover injuries at work, they work in different ways. Consider these major differences:
- In some states, only FMLA protects your job. Workers’ compensation comes with no similar benefit. However, under LAB Section 132(a), employers cannot fire an employee because of their workplace injury or illness. You should have a job of equal standing and pay when you return, even if the company filled your position.
- Workers’ compensation provides income benefits, while FMLA is unpaid leave. FMLA should continue to provide you with access to health insurance coverage, while workers’ comp should pay for your medical care related to your injuries.
- For FMLA, there are certain criteria you must meet before you qualify. You must have a set number of hours paid and have worked for the company for at least 12 months. Workers’ comp coverage begins the first time you clock in and is available to all workers.
How Do I Know Which Benefit I’m Using?
FMLA leave and workers’ compensation sometimes run concurrently. However, your employer must notify you of this upfront. They cannot decide later to manage your leave this way. Following your workers’ compensation claim, you should receive written documentation about your FMLA status.
You should continue to receive benefits through workers’ compensation even if your employer informs you that you are on FMLA leave. They cannot limit the benefits you are entitled to receive by using these two programs.
If your company informs you the two are running concurrently, the time off will count against your 12 weeks of FMLA leave available. This could become problematic if you have another injury or a family member faces an injury or illness later in the same year.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help Me After a Workplace Injury?
A workers’ compensation attorney knows how to navigate all types of workers’ comp cases, from those with no lost time at work to those with catastrophic, long-term injuries. If you need help getting the benefits you deserve or believe your employer or the insurer is not acting fairly, a workers’ comp attorney may be able to help.
You will never need to pay a workers’ compensation attorney upfront fees. By law, attorneys cannot charge injured workers directly. Instead, the attorney’s fee comes from the workers’ comp insurer and the recovered back pay.
Discuss Your Options With a Team Member Today for Free
KJT Law Group proudly represents injured workers who need help recovering compensation after on-the-job injuries. Our team can discuss your options and rights with you today for free.