News & Articles

What is The Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and FMLA?

June 28th, 2024
Workers' Compensation and FMLA

When an employee is injured on the job and needs time to recover, it can be stressful wondering how to cover expenses and whether their job will be secure upon their return. Fortunately, there are federal and state programs, such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and workers’ compensation benefits, designed to help injured employees with medical bills, lost wages, and job protection.

Some employers may try to push employees to take FMLA instead of filing a workers’ compensation claim, or suggest they need to enroll in both programs. However, FMLA is not always necessary for a workplace injury and can be reserved for other uses.

How do you know if you should take FMLA alongside your workers’ compensation benefits? Let’s define FMLA, distinguish it from workers’ compensation, and explore where the two programs may overlap.

What is FMLA?

FMLA, or the Family Medical Leave Act, is a federal program established in 1993. It provides unpaid leave, ensuring an employee’s job is protected and available when they return, though they receive no compensation during this period.

Employees may use available vacation or sick time during FMLA leave; however, once it runs out, the paycheck stops. To be eligible for FMLA, an employee must have worked at their job for one full year, and it is only offered at companies with more than 50 employees or government agencies. FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for several reasons, including:

  • Recovering from a serious injury or illness
  • The Birth or adoption of a child
  • Caring for a sick family member

If you’re recovering from a serious injury or illness, you may also be eligible for workers’ comp benefits IF the injury or illness happened at work.

If you’re unsure whether to apply for FMLA, workers’ comp, or both, consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to better understand your rights.

 FMLA vs. Workers’ Comp?

While there are similarities, FMLA and workers’ compensation are distinct programs. FMLA is a federal program, whereas workers’ compensation is a state program.

Key Differences:

  • Paid vs. Unpaid Time Off: FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Workers’ compensation typically offers two-thirds of gross wages, coverage for medical bills, and other related benefits.
  • Protected vs. Unprotected Job Status: FMLA legally protects an employee’s job, ensuring it is available when they return. Workers’ compensation does not guarantee job protection, though employers cannot terminate a position solely because of a work-related injury.
  • Eligible vs. Non-Eligible Illnesses or Injuries: FMLA can cover non-work-related injuries or illnesses and allow for time off to care for sick family members. Workers’ compensation only applies to work-related injuries or illnesses and does not apply to time off to assist an ill family member.

A Closer Look at How Workers’ Compensation and FMLA Overlap

In some cases, FMLA and workers’ compensation benefits can run at the same time. It’s crucial to consult a workers’ comp law firm before deciding which path to take. Some employers may try to avoid paying benefits by coercing employees into using sick time.

Both programs require the employer to take action. Employers cannot retroactively apply FMLA without prior written notice and they must notify their insurance company of any workplace injury.

Using both FMLA and workers’ comp can be beneficial if you’re concerned about job security. If you’re certain your job will be waiting for you, you might only need workers’ comp benefits.

An experienced workers’ comp law firm can help you navigate your options, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve and the confidence your job will be secure. Before speaking with your employer’s insurance company, schedule a free consultation.

Workers’ Comp Attorneys in York, Pa.

At Dale E. Anstine Law Firm, we focus exclusively on workers’ compensation claims and personal injury cases. Our dedicated team has over 40 years of combined experience, ready to help you receive the compensation you deserve.

Available 24/7, we offer free case evaluations. If you were injured on the job, contact us today through our online chat, or by call us at 717-846-0606. Let us fight for your rights and help you get back on your feet.