Can Your Employer Use Your Sick Leave to Avoid Paying You Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Many of us hold on to our sick time at work and allow it to accumulate while trying to save this leave for a rainy day. But when we suddenly find ourselves injured at work while working in the scope of employment, the last thing that most of us have contemplated is whether we would be expected forfeit being afforded the benefits of workers’ compensation simply because of using the sick time we have accumulated. After all, Florida’s workers’ compensation system is designed to benefit both employees and employers by allowing employers to have reliable insurance coverage with predictable payments and allowing injured workers to obtain wage replacement benefits for lost wages resulting from time away from work and medical treatment coverage. But what happens when an employer tries to wiggle around the workers’ compensation system by pointing to the fact that a worker used sick leave?
A Look at a Recent Example
A Florida appellate court recently considered this exact scenario. In Medina vs. Miami Dade County, the injured worker in that case had been working for Miami Dade county as a corrections officer when he slipped and fell on the stairs of a prison transport bus. Initially, the employer accepted compensability of the worker’s multiple injuries and he was deemed as temporarily disabled from the date of his right knee surgery to the date of the final hearing, a period not in contention. However, while the employer made two payments of temporary disability compensation benefits to the injured worker after his surgery, the employer then did not issue compensation checks for two other periods. The employer argued that the worker was not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits during those periods because he received full pay funded by his personal sick leave.
Ultimately, the appellate court disagreed with the employer’s argument and found that the worker was in fact entitled to temporary disability compensation benefits for the time periods in question. It held, in agreement with the conclusion of an earlier case, that the sick leave that was paid constituted an employer-provided alternative benefit that could not be used to avoid paying workers’ compensation. In other words, the court affirmed once again that employers can’t get around paying out benefits simply because a worker uses sick or vacation leave.
We Can Help You Advocate for Your Rights
It can be extremely difficult to know where to turn when battling an employer and insurance company who seem to have the sole purpose of trying to avoid paying out the benefits that you should rightfully have under Florida’s workers’ compensation system. As the Miami workers’ compensation attorneys at Payer & Associates, our legal team has fought for the rights of our clients in many circumstances where adverse parties did all that they could to avoid affording the compensation that was deserved. We have dedicated ourselves to helping injured workers obtain the workers’ compensation benefits they are entitled to and we welcome the opportunity to begin discussing your legal options as soon as you should reach out for a free consultation.