Worker’s compensation offers financial support for individuals who have been injured or sick due to their job. These injuries can require workers to take extended leaves to recover. Many employees are understandably concerned with their regular benefits, asking, “Do I have to use sick time for worker’s compensation?”


Do I have to use sick time for worker’s compensation?

Legally, an employer in the United States cannot require a worker to use their sick time for worker’s compensation. In accordance with CA-11 of the Federal Employees Compensation Program, an employee is entitled to medical benefits and paid leave outside of their sick time to support their recovery. 


However, insurance claims and medical recommendations can affect whether or not you have to use sick time for worker’s compensation.


The complications of claims are one of the reasons workers should seek legal representation, so you don’t have to use sick time when you’ve suffered a significant injury or illness on the job.


Insurance Claims and Worker’s Compensation

Insurance companies are known for holding their interests above the interests of the individual. That is also true for workers’ compensation. 


Insurance companies may deny legitimate worker’s compensation claims or drag out proceedings, forcing workers to use sick time to recover.


However, hiring a worker’s compensation attorney can help you recover your sick time. An attorney can file for retroactive disability pay for the days that you were unable to work during your recovery. 


Primary Physicians and Worker’s Compensation

To qualify for worker’s compensation, you must be seen by a primary treating physician in the medical provider network for your insurance company. Physicians are often provided to claimants. These physicians are the ones who determine whether or not your injury warrants worker’s compensation. 


Unfortunately, their affiliation with insurance companies often results in them favoring the insurance company over individuals. Legitimate claims can be denied and the injured party sent back to work before they are healed. You may choose to use your sick time, in this case, to avoid further injury and time to recover.


How do I get paid time off if I don’t use sick time?

Worker’s compensation involves a number of benefits to employees who suffer a job-related injury to support your recovery. This includes temporary disability, which offers paid time off for workers who cannot return during their recovery period.


However, employers may relocate injured employees to alternative departments, such as office work, rather than pay temporary disability.


Your employer’s insurance company may try to prevent or delay you from receiving temporary disability. This is why it’s important to know your rights, including the ability to get paid for your recovery time.


Why Temporary Disability Is Better Than Sick Time

If you are eligible for temporary disability, you can claim two-thirds of your weekly wages for 104 weeks or a maximum of 208 weeks in extreme cases. In addition, temporary disability offers medical coverage and benefits to help injured workers recover fully so they can return to work. 


Although your sick time will often allow for your full wages, they are for a limited period of time. You may even have used up your sick time for the year.


Additionally, sick time does not come with additional medical benefits to assist in your recovery. You risk further injury by using sick time and having to return to work earlier without the medical treatment you require.


What do I do when my temporary disability expires?

Job-related injuries can extend beyond the timeframe of temporary disability. Some individuals, such as those who have suffered a back injury on a construction site, may be unable to return to the worksite after using up their temporary disability days.


For these injured workers to continue their recovery, it may be necessary to use any paid time off that you have accrued before your injury, including sick time.


Using sick time allows injured workers to continue to support their families and get the treatment they require to heal. However, it should be used as a last resort, rather than as a requirement.


The Bottom Line: Talk To a Worker’s Compensation Attorney

So, do you have to use sick time for worker’s compensation? Legally, your employer cannot require you to exhaust your paid time off for worker’s compensation. You are entitled to temporary disability through worker’s compensation, which will cover two-thirds of your salary and support your medical recovery.


However, insurance claims and physician approval can prevent workers from receiving the benefits they are due. You may need to use your sick time to avoid returning to work before you are healed. Using a worker’s compensation attorney will help you get the benefits you require.