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Jan14

Breaks and Worker’s Comp

Does an employee have to take a 30 minute break after 6 hours of work? Also when an employee gets hurt on the job and is receiving workman comp benefits and the job offers light duty employment does the employee have to except the job offer or be terminated?

There is no federal law that requires employers to provide meal periods or rest breaks to employees. Some states have adopted such mandates so it’s important to be aware of applicable state law. Feel free to comment on this question with the state and we can research any such laws.

If an employee refuses light duty while receiving worker’s comp benefits he may lose a portion or all of his benefits. It’s important the employee has the appropriate medical clearance to work light duty and you’re not coercing him to return to work.

Assuming the employee has the appropriate medical clearance to work light duty, threatening termination for not accepting the offer may be unlawful if the employee is covered under the federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or similar state leave law.

The FMLA provides qualified employees of covered employers up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

Covered employers include those who employ 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. An eligible employee is one who has worked for their employer for at least 12 months and has worked for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months. An employee can be receiving worker’s comp benefits and be eligible for protected leave under the FMLA simultaneously.

An employee covered under the FMLA is entitled to be reinstated to his former position or comparable one upon return to work. An employee who has exhausted his FMLA leave, is not covered under state leave laws (if applicable), or is not entitled to a personal leave of absence may be terminated. Just keep in mind that terminating employees on worker’s comp may increase the risk of a wrongful termination claim if a clear practice of doing so is not consistently applied to all employees.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2016 at 8:33 pm and is filed under
Labor Laws, Termination.
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