How is your claim affected by vacation and/or PTO time in Arizona?
If you’ve been hurt on the job, you may be out of work for quite some time, depending on the severity of the injury. You may be concerned about receiving compensation for lost wages during this period, and that growing stack of medical bills.
Your best bet is to file a workers’ compensation claim; however, you may have questions about other forms of compensation while you’re waiting for your case to resolve. Questions such as:
Is it possible to receive vacation or PTO benefits in order to help cover the gap?
Here’s everything you need to know about how vacation time affects your workers’ comp case in Arizona.
Can an injured worker go on vacation if they are receiving workers’ comp benefits?
Yes, it’s generally okay to go on a vacation while receiving workers’ compensation. However, you have to ensure that the vacation doesn’t compromise the legitimacy of your claim. Depending on your injury, there are some activities that you may not be able to participate in.
For instance, someone who breaks their leg may not be able to hike, ride a bike or engage in some sports. If you engage in such activities, your employer or their insurer might question your claim and the severity of your injury.
When you go on vacation, your goal should be to relax. If your employer insists that you cannot take time off while receiving workers’ comp, contact an attorney to help you resolve the issue.
Can I use my vacation/personal time while waiting for workers’ comp benefits?
You can take a vacation while waiting for workers’ compensation benefits. The challenge comes in when you engage in activities that prove to the employer that you aren’t badly hurt, as this may negatively affect your claim.
When you go on a vacation, you still need to attend all your medical appointments and continue with treatment. Skipping your doctor’s appointments might be proof to your insurer that you are recovered, and you don’t need more benefits.
Again, if you reschedule your doctor’s appointments because of vacation, the employer might think you aren’t injured that seriously and you are ready to return to work. Injured workers traveling out of town for vacation need to be able to return for doctor’s appointments.
The activities you engage in should accommodate your injury. A physically active vacation may be an indication that you aren’t as injured as shown on your claim. Employers may come across photos or videos of you on vacation on social media or other platforms.
If these photos indicate that you aren’t as injured as you claim, a workers’ comp adjudicator can get your claim denied or your benefits canceled. If you engage in activities that may make someone believe you aren’t injured, don’t post them on social media.
Again, talk to your doctor about the kind of activities that you can engage in. It’s not uncommon in workers’ comp cases for insurance companies to send an investigator after you. If they get a photo or video of you looking healthy and physically active, that may give them cause to deny your claim or cancel the benefits you may already be receiving.
Will I get compensated for lost vacation time?
If your vacation comes when you are out of work because of an injury, your employer might decide to give you paid time off. You deserve personal time off, but if the pre-planned vacation comes at the time you are recovering from an injury, you may never get compensation for lost vacation time.
There is no law that requires your employer to compensate your missed vacation time when out receiving workers’ comp. If your planned vacation time doesn’t coincide with your injury recovery period, you deserve that time off.
For instance, if you stay out for 6 weeks recovering from an injury and your pre-planned vacation comes just when you get back to work, your employer can’t deny you vacation time.
What if my employer denied my vacation time?
No matter how much time you miss from work due to an injury, you still deserve a vacation. You are like any other employee, regardless of how long you are out on workers’ comp.
If your employer decides to merge your recovery period with your vacation time, they have to do that for all other employees. Otherwise, you can claim they discriminated against you, and you can get compensated for lost vacation time. If the employer merges vacation time with the time employees are out on workers’ comp for all employees, you may not have an option but to miss your vacation as you recover from an injury.
Does workers’ compensation pay for time off?
If you have to take time off from work due to your injuries, workers’ comp will pay for that time. If you are back at work, but you have to take some time off to visit the doctor, workers’ comp will pay for the time you take off, your travel and other expenses.
An employer that treats an injured employee differently engages in retaliatory behavior. They may be liable to disability discrimination, and they also violate workers’ compensation law. Take note of any discrimination and be sure to inform your lawyer right away.
When to consult an Arizona workers’ compensation attorney
Even as you recover from an injury, you are entitled to take full advantage of your vacation time. The circumstances of every injured worker are different. For starters, you need to heed the doctor’s advice if you plan to go on vacation while out on workers’ comp.
Second, you need to consult an experienced workers’ comp attorney, like our team at the Law Offices of Robert E. Wiśniewski.
Our attorneys understand Arizona workers’ comp laws, and we will help you get the benefits you deserve and enjoy your vacation. We will also guide you on what to do and what not to do when on vacation.