Often times it is in your employer’s best interest to keep your job available. However, in some cases an employer may not be willing to hold your job. It is important to know what your options are and what you should be doing in order to protect your rights.
In Minnesota most employees are “at will.” That means, in the absence of an employment contract, an employer can discharge an employee at any time for any legal reason, with or without notice. However there are certain protections that an injured employee has, including your employer cannot refuse to offer continued employment to you when employment is available within your physical limitations. If an employer fails to offer you employment without good cause they may be responsible to pay you one year’s worth of wages in addition to work comp benefits.
Additionally, the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (the “FMLA”) provides eligible employees with the right to take unpaid leave in connection with a work related injury. The FMLA applies to any employer employing 50 or more employees within 75 miles of a work site for 20 or more weeks in the current or prior calendar year.
To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months (the months need not be consecutive) and must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12-month period preceding the leave. If you are eligible you may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period in conjunction with the work related injury.
During the FMLA leave an employer is required to continue your group health coverage during the period of FMLA leave as if you had continued to work, although you must continue to pay your share of the group health plan premiums in order to retain coverage during the leave.
At the end of the leave, you must be restored to your prior position or to a position with equivalent benefits.