From the Hotline: Workers’ Compensation and FMLA

Question: When a person goes on workers’ compensation leave, do we have to draw up Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) papers?

Answer: As a best practice, a leave of absence due to a medical condition caused by a work related injury should be treated as any other medically related leave of absence and therefore should be designated under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This ensures that there is no discriminatory practice between those who have a serious medical condition that is work related and those who do not. In addition, FMLA regulations require employers to provide notice of an employee’s right to protected leave under the FMLA when the employer becomes aware that a leave of absence is required. Failing to provide this notice to employees on leave for a work related medical condition could constitute an infringement on the employee’s rights. And finally, an employee that is out on an extended leave due to a work-related medical condition that has not been designated as FMLA may return to work, and then request FMLA for another purpose immediately after as their FMLA rights have not been exhausted if FMLA was never designated. For these reasons, we always advise clients to extend FMLA to all employees with a serious medical condition, regardless of the reason, to limit liability.