Understandably, many people who are injured at work are concerned about their jobs. They are afraid that if they cannot perform the duties of their job, they will be fired. Unfortunately, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act will not prevent the employer from firing you if you cannot work. However, if your work injury is determined to be compensable, we can make sure that you are paid for the wages that you lose when you are out of work- even if you are not working because the employer does not have work for you. If the doctor has you totally out of work, you will not need to do anything else. However, if the doctor gives you restrictions that prevent you from returning to your pre-injury employment, then the Commission will require that you look for work to try to limit the lost wages that you have.
One of your other questions may be that you don’t understand why you have to look for work when you already have a job, particularly when you fully expect to return to work at some point. Please understand that this is not our requirement, it is a requirement of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. The point of the requirement is to make sure that you, the injured worker, are doing everything you can to limit the lost wages that the insurance carrier will have to pay you. If your concern is that no one will hire you with the estrictions you have, the requirement is only that you look for work, not that you find work. The Commission really just wants to see that you are trying your best.
While the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act cannot force your employer to hold your job open for you, there is another law that might, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA can be used at the same time as workers’ compensation. Employees are eligible to take FMLA leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and work at a place where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles. If you qualify for FMLA, your employer will have to hold a job for you for 12 weeks. It does not have to be the job you had before you went out of work, only a job that pays the same thing.