If you suffer a significant work injury that requires you to miss days, weeks or months away from work, you may be wondering if your job will still be there for you once you’re healthy enough to return. Does your employer have to hold your job for a set amount of time, or can they just replace you as a result of your injuries? We explore your right to return to your job after an injury in today’s blog.
Will My Employer Hold My Job?
The answer to the above question is more nuanced than simply yes or no. Oftentimes the decision to hold a position for an injured employee will come down to a number of factors, including how long the person will be out and at what capacity they will be able to work upon their return. Your employer is not legally required to hold your job if you will not be able to perform your normal duties after you’ve recovered from an injury.
For example, let’s say you work construction and a work accident leaves you unable to have significant use of your right arm for the rest of your life. This renders you incapable of performing your normal job duties, and a company would be well within their rights to hire someone else to fill your position. It is unfortunate that you suffered the work injury and will be replaced, but if you will not make enough of a recovery to be able to perform your required work duties, your employer is legally allowed to hire someone for your position.
Let’s move away from the doom and gloom and share some positive news. Even if you cannot return to your old job, your employer is not legally allowed to terminate your employment after a work injury if you are still able to work. Your employer is required to make reasonable accommodations in order to help an employee return to work. For example, that same injured construction worker may be able to transition to a different position in the company that does not require as much physical labor. Workers’ compensation benefits can provide retraining benefits and even cover education expenses to help you transition to a new position within the company or find employment elsewhere. You will not be left out in the cold without options following an injury in the workplace.
It’s also illegal for your employer to fire you or to take retaliatory action against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. They cannot fire you, they can’t cut your hours or drastically change your work schedule as a result of your decision to file a claim. They may be able pursue these measures for other reasons, like poor performance or company-wide layoffs, but if you believe your company acted out against you for filing an injury claim, you may have legal options.
Finally, it’s also worth noting that your employer may be legally required to hold your job for up to 12 weeks while you recover from injury if you apply for benefits under FMLA, which is the Family and Medical Leave Act. FMLA requires most employers to grant employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave while they recover from a work injury or any number of other covered conditions. For example, many women seek FMLA protections after they have a baby to ensure their job is there for them after a few weeks with their newborn.
So while companies in Minnesota are not required to hold your exact position for you after an injury, oftentimes it makes fiscal sense for them to do so instead of hiring someone else and training them to do your job. Also, you can’t be fired for filing an injury claim, and your company is required to make reasonable accommodations to welcome you back to the workforce once you’ve been cleared for a return by a doctor. You have plenty of legal protections after a work injury, and we can help ensure that you get what you are entitled to receive. For more information, or for help with any part of the injury claims process, reach out to Dean and the team at Margolis Law Firm today at (952) 230-2700.
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