Using PTO on Workers’ Compensation
For some injured workers, there may be the option to use paid time off (PTO) while on workers’ compensation. However, utilizing those vacation days, sick time, personal days and holidays may not actually always be the most beneficial move depending on your state’s workers’ compensation laws.
Before you use or request any PTO, understand the benefits and drawbacks of doing so while on workers’ compensation.
Why Should You Use PTO While on Workers’ Compensation?
What many people don’t realize is that workers’ compensation only covers a portion of your regular income. So, if you are the primary income earner in your household and you are on an extended leave of absence because of injury, you may begin to face financial struggles. Your PTO may be able to recoup some of those financial losses to account for the percentage of your income workers’ compensation will not provide.
Paid time off can help maintain a standard of living and avoid financial hardship which allows you to focus on recovery.
Can I Use My PTO Before I Start Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Depending on how long you are on workers’ compensation, it could take weeks before you begin to receive payment. Until the workers’ compensation kicks in, your PTO can help cover those living expenses.
Unfortunately, insurance companies will sometimes deny workers’ compensation claims even if you have sustained a serious injury. Likely your employer and the insurance company will have a doctor they want you to see for your workers’ compensation claim. However, if they determine you are not injured enough and can work, you will then need to begin the appeal process.
The appeal process can also take time, where you likely are still out of work. By cashing in that PTO, you can cover your monthly expenses like your mortgage, groceries, medical and more.
Unfortunately, you may run out of PTO before the workers’ compensation claim gets approved.
How Can I Use My PTO Before Workers’ Compensation Kicks In?
Your state’s laws surrounding workers’ compensation will ultimately determine if it makes sense to utilize PTO before workers’ compensation. In some states, PTO will go against the workers’ compensation benefits that the insurance company will pay out.
This means that there is really no benefit to utilizing the PTO. Further, any PTO you have available, in conjunction with the workers’ compensation, cannot exceed the compensation you would typically receive in your gross weekly earnings.
In some cases, you may be able to negotiate the carryover of your PTO until you return to work. In others, you may just have to take the loss and restart the process to accrue PTO.
Be sure to discuss your options with your human resources officer to make sure you are abiding by company policies and seek legal advice on state workers’ compensation laws.
Can My Employer Make Me Use PTO?
If you were hurt in a workplace accident and are entitled to workers’ compensation, your employer cannot legally require you to use your PTO instead of utilizing the workers’ compensation benefits.
However, the company can allow or require you to use your earned PTO while on workers’ compensation to make up the difference between your employee benefits and regular wages.
How Do I Find Out If I Can Use PTO While On Workers’ Compensation?
If you are unsure of your employer’s rules on using PTO while on workers’ compensation, your employee handbook should be able to answer your questions. Further, speaking to human resources will also help you understand if you must use PTO to make up the difference between your benefits and gross wages.
Additionally, you will want to ask if the PTO you have will be carried over until you can return to work, or if it will have to restart.
If you must use PTO to make up the benefits difference, be sure that your company’s payroll department complies with your state’s tax laws. And, if you feel like your rights are being violated, contact a workers’ compensation attorney.
If I Suffered a Workplace Injury and Later am Placed on Workers’ Compensation, Can I Get My PTO Back?
If you are made to use your PTO while your workers’ compensation benefits were denied, you may be able to “buy back” your sick and vacation time. Your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance carriers cannot take credits against your PTO, but you may be able to use the finances you received in compensation benefits to get that PTO back.
This is a complicated area of Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law, which is why you will want to seek the representation of a workers’ compensation attorney to guide you on your rights.
Can I Still Use My Pension and Workers’ Compensation Benefits at The Same Time?
If the injuries you sustained cause you to retire instead of return to work, the workers’ compensation benefits may be offset by your pension. Under workers’ compensation law, your employer does have the legal right to reduce your workers’ compensation benefits by the amount of time the employer funded your pension. So, if your employer funded fifteen percent of your pension, fifteen percent will be deducted from your workers’ compensation benefits until the workers’ compensation period has been met.
Know that by law, your employer and the workers’ compensation carrier must give you twenty days notice to take credits from your compensation benefits; further you are entitled to proof of payment for the percentage of pension they are taking from your compensation benefits.
If your employers or the insurance agency won’t comply, contact a workers’ compensation attorney.
Can I Collect Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment At the Same Time?
Under the law, you can collect workers’ compensation benefits and unemployment compensation at the same time. For example, if you were injured at work but are willing and able to take a lighter duty position but your employer cannot give you one, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
But know that the amount of unemployment benefits you receive will be counted against your workers’ compensation benefits.
Further, collecting both benefits will place you in two separate courts within the Pennsylvania Department of Laborwhere different rules and standards apply to each claim. This can make an already complex situation more complicated, so be sure to meet with a legal representative before making a decision.
How Long Can I Collect Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Workers’ compensation benefits are calculated in two parts, the first being wage loss and the second is for medical expenses related to the workplace injury.
You can collect full or temporary disability benefits for two years. And, under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act allows an injured worker to collect partial disability benefits for up to 500 weeks.
In addition, the workers’ compensation carrier may even pay medical bills related to the workplace injury for the life of the worker; however, there are exceptions to the amount of time someone can collect and for what losses.
You can learn more about the number of payments you are entitled to by injury you have sustained here.
What Do I Do If My Employer Violates Any Of The Workers’ Compensation Laws?
If your employer or employer’s insurance company violates the provisions of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, you may be eligible to file a penalty petition. A penalty provision allows you to recover losses for:
- Delaying workers’ compensation payment without cause
- Terminating benefits unjustly
- Denying a claim due to an improper investigation of the work injury
- Failing to notify the injured worker, within 21 days, that the claim is denied
- Failing to pay medical bills
If successful, you as the injured worker may be eligible for an award of up to 50 percent of the past-due amount owed, plus interest, and attorney fees.
If you believe your employer has treated you unfairly or has not provided you with your full benefits after a workplace injury, Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can help.
The Workers’ Compensation Attorneys At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help You
If workers’ comp denies your claim, or you are being asked to use your PTO when you do not think you legally must, you should seek a work injury lawyer immediately. Our dedicated team of lawyers and paralegals will help you get the benefits you deserve.
At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, we have helped Pennsylvania employees recover millions of dollars in workers’ compensation claims. We can answer your questions, guide you through the filing process, and bring your employer to task if they do not abide by Pennsylvania law.
Our workers comp law firm understands that the aftermath of a work-related accident can be a difficult time in your life for you and your family.
Contact us now for a no obligation, free case evaluation for your workers compensation case. Call us or email us. A member of our work accident injury team will get back to you right away. Our offices in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Allentown and other locations are ready to help you.