Can employers replace workers’ comp benefits with personal leave?

Can employers replace workers’ comp benefits with personal leave?

| Jul 17, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

You work hard for the compensation you receive from your job. While your paycheck is an essential part of that, your benefits like vacation leave or personal leave also matter to you. The payment you receive while you’re off work lets you spend valuable time with your family. But can your company force you to use that time after an accident?

Workers’ compensation helps replace your income if you need to recover from a severe workplace injury. However, in a recent Florida case, a company tried to make an employee use their accrued personal hours instead of paying out workers’ comp benefits.

The employer withheld benefits but paid out leave

A correctional officer in Miami suffered a severe accident when he fell off the stairs of a prison bus and hurt his knee. His employer, Miami-Dade County, accepted his workers’ comp claim, paying him temporary disability benefits to supplement his lost income.

However, halfway through the employee’s recovery, the county started paying the officer directly out of his personal leave funds. They claimed that since the payment was money directly from the county, they didn’t need to use workers’ comp.

Compensation benefits can’t replace workers’ comp

The worker filed a claim to receive his benefits and to get his lost personal time back. While a lower court denied him, a Florida appellate court reversed the decision. They ruled that personal leave is a form of compensation already received and can’t replace workers’ comp.

Employees need workers’ comp after an accident

Employers may try many ways to avoid paying workers’ compensation. They don’t want to pay directly for medical bills or supplemental income. And a claim with their insurance company may cause their rates to go up.

However, after a workplace accident, you can suffer significantly from both medical bills and lost wages. Benefits can help you support your family while you recover. If your company tries to deny you, you may need to take legal action.