Can I Use Vacation Days to Supplement Workers’ Comp Benefit Payments?
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Can I Use Vacation Days to Supplement Workers’ Comp Benefit Payments?

When you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, any extra income helps. You may wonder if you can use your vacation days or paid time off (PTO) benefits to supplement workers’ comp. Paid vacation or PTO could make up for the portion of your take-home pay that your wage benefits do not cover.

How Much Do Workers’ Comp Wage Loss Benefits Pay?

Workers’ compensation wage loss benefits provide you with two-thirds of your regular gross wages as of the date of injury. In other words, the check you receive should be two-thirds of your regular take-home pay. The payment will not have taxes withheld in the same way that a paycheck would. This means, however, that you are still short one-third of your regular income from your job. To make up for this, some public sector employers allow or require you to use benefits while you are on leave.

Your public sector employer can pay you additional benefits while you are receiving workers’ compensation wage loss payments. These benefits could include vacation pay, PTO, accumulated sick leave, comp time, or simply payments from the employer not charged against leave. (Minn. Stat. § 176.021, subd. 5.) Some employers will allow you to use vacation days or take PTO while you are on leave due to a workplace injury if you request to do so. Some employers even require that you use up your vacation while on a lengthy leave.

What About Accrued Vacation and Sick Leave?

Other public sector employers may charge your weekly wage against your accrued vacation or sick leave. This could happen while you wait for workers’ compensation benefits to begin. Basically, the employer pays you your vacation pay on the regular payroll schedule for your full gross wage that you would have received if you had not been injured. Because such an employer pays out the vacation pay, PTO, or sick pay to the employee on leave, he or she loses little to no wages. When the employee receives a workers’ compensation benefits check from the insurer, the employer requires the employee to give the employer the check or write the employer a check for that amount, since the employer has already paid the employee the amount through cashing out vacation.

To find out if your employer will allow you to use vacation days or other benefits to supplement your workers’ comp benefits, check your employee handbook or talk to Human Resources or the payroll department. Make sure that if you do receive benefits from your employer, your employer gives them the appropriate tax treatment. Your workers’ comp benefits (or any benefits substituted for them as described in the previous paragraph) should not be counted as your taxable income. Nor should your employer pay employer taxes and adjustments, such as Social Security or Medicare.

The combination of any wage-replacement benefits you receive from workers’ compensation and any benefits you receive from your employer cannot exceed your gross weekly wage at the time of your injury. Finally, you cannot use benefits that you accrue after the injury to increase your income while you receive wage replacement workers’ comp benefits.

Do You Accrue PTO While on Workers Comp?

Most employees will not qualify to accrue paid time off (PTO) as they receive workers’ compensation benefits in Minnesota for temporary total disability (TTD). However, an employee may use existing vacation pay, holiday pay, or other types of PTO to supplement benefits when on leave for workers’ compensation.

Do You Accrue Annual Leave While on Workers’ Compensation?

Employees who sustain an injury or illness on-the-job are eligible to receive needed medical care and treatment and may also receive income benefits during an ongoing work absence, such as temporary income benefits. Workers’ comp laws do not contain a provision for job reinstatement or leave entitlement. The employer is also not required to continue paying contributions to the employee’s health insurance payments. However, someone with a work-related injury or illness that leaves that person unable to work may qualify for leave benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

How Long Will My Workman’s Comp Benefits Last?

The time period in which temporary total disability benefits last is 130 weeks. The time of compensation depends on the injury but may be estimated through consultation with your doctor. Individuals may only receive temporary partial disability benefits for a maximum of 225 weeks. Permanent disability benefits are not actually permanent under Minnesota law – a retirement presumption exists in the law in which the benefits are no longer provided at age 67.

A clause is present in the law that allows you to appeal to a workers’ compensation judge that at age 67 you would not have gone into retirement but continued working. If you win that case, the insurer will be required to continue paying you workers’ comp benefits. However, this claim may be difficult to prove if you have been out of work for some time as a result of an injury.

Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.