Can you be fired while out on workers’ comp?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can you be fired while out on workers’ comp?

I got hurt at work and was taken to get medical help. Was put on light duty which we dont have at work. So I was told to stay home until

released from doctor. After 3 weeks, I was told that if I’m not released I will lose my employment.

Asked on January 5, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can be terminated on worker's compensation. Worker's compensation provides--as the term implies--compensation for your injury; it does *not* hold or guaranty your job. An employer has to make "reasonable accommodations" for an injured employee, but a reasonable accommodation is one that still lets the employee do the core or important functions of his or her job. If the employee cannot do the core or important functions of his or her job, he or she may be terminated--the law does not make employers retain people who cannot or will not work. And "light duty" is not a reasonable accommodation--the employer is not required to let you out of the important (or all!) functions of your job, or create a new set of duties for you: you must be able to, even if it is with some minor change in rules or some not-too-expensive assistive device (i.e. a reasonable accommodation), do your job.
If you cannot work due to an injury, you could miss work without being terminated if you have enough paid time off (PTO) for your absence. Or if the employer is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which means has at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius, and you are eligible for FMLA (worked there at least a year; worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months), you could take up 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave.
But without using PTO or FMLA, if you can't work, you may be terminated, and worker's compensation will not preserve your job.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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