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What Happens to My Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits if I’m Laid Off or Terminated While Receiving Benefits?

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides compensation, including medical benefits and missed wages, to help workers suffering from injuries or diseases caused by their employment.  Some workers fear that filing a claim for workers’ compensation will cause them to lose their job.  In fact, employers cannot retaliate against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. They can, however, fire an employee who has an open workers’ compensation claim and is receiving benefits. This raises the question of what happens to benefits provided by workers’ compensation when an employee is laid off or terminated.

In terms of whether an employer has the right to fire an employee, it depends on which kind of employment contract or agreement is set in place. Most employees in Pennsylvania have “at will” employment, meaning that they can be terminated by an employer at any time for a variety of reasons. In fact, an employer may fire an employee for any reason that is not a civil rights violation.  Additionally, at-will employees are entitled to resign from their jobs for any reason.

While an injured worker is receiving workers’ compensation and is not at work, they may be fired by their employer. At-will employees do not receive greater protection against job loss than they had before their injury.  When an injured employee is receiving workers’ compensation benefits and is then laid off or terminated, their unemployed status does not affect their right to benefits.

According to law, workers’ compensation benefits should not cease simply because you have been laid off or terminated from your employment. In other words, the workers’ compensation insurer will continue paying wage loss and medical benefits, even though the employee no longer works for the employer.

If you have suffered a work-related injury, when you return to work is generally determined by your doctors.  Most likely, a doctor will release an injured worker to return to work with some restrictions regarding what they can do or cannot do.  Providing your doctors with specific information about your job duties will allow them to maintain a good idea of your job’s physical requirements.

If you have provided your employer with a copy of the release, they have the option of bringing you back to work. If they choose not to return you to work, you should continue receiving your workers’ compensation benefits. If the employer offers a position to you, they may send a Notice of Ability to Return to Work before a return-to-work offer is completed.

In some cases, a doctor may determine that an injured worker may return to work before they feel well enough to return.  But if a hurt worker simply does not return to work, after a doctor releases them to return to work, they may jeopardize their right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

At the Needle Law Firm, our Pennsylvania work injury attorneys can help you understand your legal rights if you have been terminated and are receiving workers’ compensation benefits.  We represent hurt workers in their legal claims against employers. By calling 570-344-1266 or contacting us online, you can set up your complimentary consultation.

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