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April 25, 2019

Three More Workers’ Compensation Issues to Watch in 2019

We are examining workers’ compensation issues to monitor in 2019. One of the overarching themes is that employers want their employees to return to work as soon as possible free of restriction. The other is that individuals who claim a permanent impairment will be continually challenged to demonstrate that impairment. Read on for three other issues to watch in 2019.

Leaves of Absence

Employees with serious injuries following a workplace accident or occupational illness may require a long leave of absence period. Employers have varied sick leave and extended leave policies. In almost all cases, time off work to deal with an employee’s own medical condition is unpaid. Individuals hurt while performing a job duty or function do receive a portion of their wages through the workers’ compensation insurance program, but the regularity of the payments takes a long time to establish.

Employers do offer family-friendly leave policies either as an employee retention tool or because they are mandated by state or local laws. However, the employer wants the employee to return to work as quickly as possible restriction-free. If it takes too long, the employee may be out of a job at the end of recovery. Maintaining the job, following a workplace accident or illness is difficult for individuals who exhaust their leave benefits.

Impaired Workforce

The federal government is considering the reclassification of marijuana as a legal substance. The legalization of marijuana will impact the workplace. A large percentage of employers have a zero-tolerance drug policy. The employer will be concerned with questions like, what percentage of the workforce is high on the job? The employee may be unable to recover workers’ compensation benefits following a workplace injury if he or she was under the influence of marijuana, for example. Even though a substance is legal, restrictions can still be placed on its use by the employer.

Surveillance of Injured Workers

Many employers tell their employees that while they are at work they are being monitored. Some are monitored by video, some by audio, and others both ways. This surveillance is not limited to the worksite. Employers will examine an employee’s social media accounts to investigate if the employee is really injured. If the employee has a permanent injury, the workers’ compensation investigators may delve into a claimant’s online presence to determine whether the claimed limitations are in fact valid. The Trump administration, for example, recently submitted a proposal to include a social media search of applicants applying and re-certifying for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Expect to be monitored and challenged when your behaviors are inconsistent with the injuries you report.

Injured on the Job?

The workers’ compensation attorneys at Lavonia’s Berelc Law Firm are available to discuss an injured employee eligible for workers’ compensation benefits following a job-related injury or illness. Call us today to schedule an immediate review of your case. A workers’ compensation attorney can take the burden of your claim off your shoulders allowing you to focus on healing and getting back on your feet. You can also book your appointment online.

The Berelc Law Firm represents injured people throughout north Georgia, including Lavonia, Hartwell, Carnesville, Royston, Elberton, Danielsville, Toccoa, Commerce, Comer, Colbert, Bowman, Clarkesville, Athens, Augusta, Hart County, Franklin County, Stephens County, Elbert County, Banks County, Madison County, Oglethorpe County, Clarke County, Richmond County, and Columbia County.