An injury strikes you at work, affecting your ability to perform your job. You are nervous and, naturally, worry about how to provide for your family. You also suspect that you may lose your job. Why do you worry? Because you fear that your employer will fire you for seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
This is just one example of the misconceptions that people have about the workers’ compensation program. This program provides injured workers with temporary financial relief that, sometimes, can last up to seven years. Among the things to remember is that employers cannot fire you when applying for workers’ compensation benefits.
You cannot be fired for seeking benefits
Many first-time applicants of workers’ compensation benefits know little about the program and how it can help them. Among the first things to know is that the benefits are provided through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
Sometimes, people seeking workers’ compensation listen to the whispers and “advice” from colleagues who claim to know the rules. In some of these cases, you may have to ignore their unsolicited advice and sidestep the misconceptions you hear. Among those misconceptions include:
- Termination from your job for pursuing benefits: An employer cannot fire an employee who seeks workers’ compensation benefits. Doing so is illegal and disregards a worker’s legal rights. Termination is a form of retaliation.
- Your injury had to occur at work: If you are performing your working duties off-site and get injured, you likely qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. If you sustain injuries in a motor vehicle accident while making a work-related delivery, you also qualify.
- Only injuries that occur during job performance qualify: Certain medical conditions experienced by workers have direct ties to their jobs and working conditions. As a result, some people who suffer from repetitive stress injuries, hearing loss and respiratory conditions may seek workers’ compensation benefits.
- The injury was your fault, so you do not qualify: If an injury occurs due to a mistake you made or through mishandling equipment, you may still qualify. But if horseplay plays a part in your injury, you likely will not qualify for benefits.
Myths regarding the workers’ compensation program are many, so ignore them. A work-related injury may have a drastic effect on your life. Know your rights.