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Navigating Ohio Workers Comp and FMLA

If you are injured or become ill while on the job, there are several laws designed to protect eligible employees.

First, there is the Ohio Workers’ compensation system, which involves a series of state laws addressing work-related injuries. Second, there is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is a federal law designed to provide job security to eligible employees suffering from a serious medical conditions.

To better inform workers about the differences between these two laws, the following examines the interplay between Ohio workers’ comp and the FMLA.

The Role of Ohio Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation or workers’ comp is essentially an insurance system designed to provide both medical and financial benefits to employees who are injured in the course and scope of their employment or employees who contract an occupational disease in the course and scope of their employment.  Workers’ compensation is known as a “no-fault” system meaning that an employee does not need to prove fault or negligence in order to participate in the system.

Ohio law requires all employers to obtain workers’ compensation coverage for employees. An employee can either be state-funded, meaning the employer pays insurance premiums to the state insurance fund.  Or an employer can be self-insured, meaning the employer pays benefits directly to the employee.  Because both state-funded and self-insured employers are financially impacted by workers’ compensation, most employers participate in the workers’ compensation process and may even contest an employee’s right to benefits.

The Role of the FMLA

Some workers who experience a “serious health condition” may qualify for  protection under the FMLA. This body of law provides safeguards to eligible employees by providing 12 weeks of protected unpaid leave, and continued health care coverage during the leave of absence.

It can be challenging to determine if you qualify for the FMLA. Employees of private businesses with at least 50 employees, as well as federal workers, state workers, government workers, and elementary or secondary school teachers qualify for the FMLA. To be eligible for the FMLA, the employee must also have worked for that employer for a period of at least 12 months to qualify for FMLA protection.

For the purpose of the FMLA, an employee must establish that he or she suffers from a “serious health condition.” Serious health condition is defined as “an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves: inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or continuing treatment by a health care provider.”

The Interaction Between the FMLA and Workers’ Compensation

There are some substantial differences between the FMLA and workers’ compensation. First, an employee need not be employed for a certain period of time before qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits; however, to qualify under the FMLA, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least a year. Secondly, the FMLA provides unpaid leave and does not cover medical bills, while workers’ compensation provides paid benefits and medical bill coverage.

Depending on the circumstances, a workers’ compensation injury could be considered a serious health condition for purposes of the FMLA. Therefore, an employee could be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits and FMLA for the same injury.

Contact an Ohio Workman’s Compensation Lawyer 

The Ohio’s workers’ compensation process can be complex, particularly when other federal and state law come into play. If you have questions about your rights, one of our highly experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can absolutely help. Contact Dworken & Bernstein today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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