HR Management & Compliance

Are Employees on Worker’s Comp ‘Protected’ from Termination?

Workers’ Comp is celebrating its 100th year in California, but a lot of employers aren’t cheering; managing comp cases is still a hassle. An upcoming webinar will help with one of the most vexing challenges: how to terminate an employee who is out on workers’ comp leave.

Discrimination and Workers’ Comp

Let’s face it—even if you’re sympathetic to them, it’s annoying to have workers out on comp. Someone else has to do their work, someone has to track their progress, and sometimes managers and supervisors feel like they are being played. But don’t let them get going with “Who does he think he is, hanging out at home while we do the work?”

With a few comments like that on the record, take just about any action against an employee and a charge of discrimination or retaliation might gain traction.

In California, an employer may not discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee because the employee filed a claim for compensation. The penalty for such discrimination is a 50 percent increase in compensation, to a maximum of $10,000.

In addition, an employee discharged under these circumstances is entitled to reinstatement with back pay and up to $250 in costs. Also, the California Supreme Court has decided that an employee may sue in civil court for violation of job discrimination laws and for wrongful discharge. In that case, punitive and compensatory damages are available as remedies, and that means costs can increase dramatically.

Can you fire an employee who’s out on comp? The answer: Yes, but…. Upcoming webinar sets out the rules, gives practical tips, and answers your particular questions—and you don’t have to leave the building. Click here for details.

Posting of Notice

Here’s another easy way to get in trouble with workers’ compensation—let your poster program lapse. The employer must keep posted in a conspicuous place a notice stating the name of its workers’ compensation insurance carrier or a statement that it is self-insured. The notice must be easily understandable and posted in both English and Spanish where there are Spanish-speaking employees. The notice must also include the following details:

  • How to get emergency medical treatment, if needed
  • The kinds of events, injuries, and illnesses covered by workers’ compensation
  • The injured employee’s right to receive medical care
  • The rights of the employee to select and change the treating physician after the first 30 days
  • The rights of the employee to receive temporary disability indemnity, permanent disability indemnity, vocational rehabilitation services, and death benefits, as appropriate
  • To whom injuries should be reported
  • The existence of time limits for the employer to be notified of an occupational injury
  • The protections against discrimination
  • The location and telephone number of the nearest information and assistance employee

Failure of an employer to provide the notice required by this automatically permits the employee to be treated by his or her personal physician with for an injury occurring during that failure. Failure to post such notices is a misdemeanor and is evidence of non-insurance as well.

Workers’ compensation—it’s a hassle. And one of HR’s trickiest tasks is trying to fire someone who’s on or has taken comp leave. Good news—an upcoming webinar shows how to manage that very problem.

There are times when discipline or termination of a workers’ comp claimant is warranted, just as it would be for any other worker. But you’re walking into a powder keg if you underestimate the legal risks involved.

Once cleared to return to work, a workers’ comp claimant may request a light-duty accommodation, which could trigger ADA protections. You’re also dealing with potential FMLA leave issues, as well as job restoration rights provided by California’s workers’ comp law. And don’t forget about possible exceptions to the at-will doctrine. One false move and you could find yourself in a heap of legal trouble.

Join us on September 29 for an in-depth 90-minute interactive webinar all about disciplining and terminating workers who are out on workers’ comp or have returned to work. Our expert—an experienced workers’ comp attorney—will explain how to reduce your legal risks so you can walk this legal tightrope without fear of catastrophe.

Are employees on workers’ comp “untouchable”? Not exactly, but special care is required to discipline or terminate. Special new September 29 webinar sorts it out and answers your questions. Click here for details.

The date is September 29, 2010. The time, 10:30 AM. As with all ERI webinars, one fee trains all the staff you can fit around a conference phone, you can get your (and their) specific phoned-in or emailed questions answered in an extensive Q&A that follows the presentation, and your satisfaction is assured or you get a full refund.

What if you can’t attend on that date? Pre-order the conference CD. For more information on the conference and the experts presenting it, to register, or to pre-order the CD, click here. We’ll be happy to make the arrangements.

How Does a Webinar Work?

A webinar is remarkably cost-effective and convenient. You participate from your office, using a regular telephone and a computer with an Internet connection. You have no travel costs and no out-of-office time.

Because the conference is live, you can ask the speakers questions—about your specific issues—either on the phone or via e-mail.

Please join us September 9 for Workers’ Comp: How To Discipline or Terminate Claimants Without Triggering Lawsuits in California. Get more information.

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