Stephen Hasner | Workers' Compensation | January 4, 2022
If you’ve been injured on the job, you’re probably facing a host of challenges. Pain, medical bills, doctor visits, lost income, and stress often accompany workplace injuries.
On top of all these stressors, the last thing you should have to worry about is retaliation from an employer over a workers’ compensation claim. Sometimes, an employer is justified in reducing hours after a workers’ comp claim is filed. Other times, an employer might cut hours as a way to punish a worker for filing a claim.
Knowing the difference and how to respond can help ensure your job is protected while you heal from your injuries.
What Does Workers’ Comp Cover?
Employers are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance. This protects them from liability and helps to ensure that employees who are injured on the job will have adequate coverage for any medical bills.
Workers’ comp also pays a percentage of an employee’s regular income if they’re unable to work due to a workplace injury. After a serious injury, workers’ comp might even pay for long-term disability.
Why Would an Employer Not Want a Claim Filed?
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why an employer might not want an employee to file a workers’ comp claim after a workplace injury. Usually, these reasons are financial.
Workers’ comp claims may lead to the following outcomes:
- Higher insurance premiums
- Investigations by safety oversight organizations
- Fines for improper safety protocols
Sometimes, employers desire to avoid consequences like these, so they pressure or threaten employees to refrain from filing a claim. Some possible threats include:
- Reducing hours
- Withholding a promotion
- Reporting immigration status
These are all illegal practices. Workers’ comp is a legal requirement for employers, and it exists to protect workers. Employees should not worry about adverse consequences when filing a claim.
Why Were My Hours Cut?
After filing for worker’s compensation, an employee might notice that their regular work hours have been reduced. Before jumping to conclusions, it’s a good idea to find out why this happened. Sometimes, reduced hours are warranted or even required.
Doctor-Ordered Reduction of Hours
After an employee files a workers’ compensation claim, part of the documentation might include orders from a doctor to reduce the number of hours worked. Working fewer hours could help the injury heal more swiftly.
Normally, you would be made aware of any work restrictions from a physician as part of a worker’s comp claim. If your hours have been cut and you are unaware of any doctor restrictions, you should call the physician you saw for your workplace injury and verify whether the doctor set a limit on working hours.
Typically, an order for reduced hours would result in receiving workers’ comp pay for the hours missed.
Unwarranted Reduction of Hours
If your hours were reduced after you filed a workers’ comp claim and a doctor did not order a reduced workload, you might have cause for concern.
Every workplace and employer is different. If your workplace has a history of altering hours based on need, a reduction of hours around the time of a workers’ comp claim might be a coincidence.
If you believe that an employer reduced your hours as retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim, you may want to consult with an attorney. An employer who has intentionally cut back a workers’ hours because of a worker’s comp claim will be unlikely to admit this directly, as it’s an illegal action.
It’s advisable to proceed with caution. Depending on the terms of employment, an employer might be permitted to reduce hours at will or based on company need.
It’s smart to consult with a lawyer before jumping to conclusions, making allegations, or confronting an employer. If your rights have been violated, an attorney can help build a case and pursue the necessary legal action.