One of the first questions our clients ask us is whether they have to use personal time if they get hurt at work. While every company is different, our Ft. Lauderdale workers’ comp attorneys know that you can’t be forced to use your earned time off.
What Constitutes Personal Time?
Everyone seems to have their own way of describing earned time off. Some people call it “vacation time.” Others refer to it as “personal time.” Others tell us that their time is classified as “sick time.”
Regardless of what they call it, your employer in Ft. Lauderdale cannot force anybody to use their personal, sick, or vacation time. Here, we will refer to this time as personal time for convenience’s sake.
Every Employer Classifies Your Earned Time Off Differently
Depending on the company you work for, you may earn a certain number of days off every year. For employers who strictly categorize this time, it is likely divided up as follows.
- Sick Time – Days that you take off when you are ill or need to go to a doctor’s appointment.
- Personal Time – Days that you can use for anything you deem necessary.
- Vacation Time – These are days that you schedule off in advance.
It doesn’t really matter what you call it – your employer cannot legally force you to use this time if you suffer a workplace injury.
For Workers’ Compensation, All Earned Time Off Should Be Treated the Same
If your employer does tell you that you have to use all available personal time, you need to let your Ft. Lauderdale workers’ comp attorney know about it. They can reach out to your employer and let them know they are representing you.
Once your employer finds out that you’re represented by a workers’ compensation lawyer in Ft. Lauderdale, they may change their answer.
Your Ft. Lauderdale Workers’ Comp Attorney Will Need to See Your Employee Handbook
While Florida law does not allow an employer to force an employee to use personal time, it’s a good idea to review your employee handbook. Depending on the type of work you do and the company you work for, it may matter.
Your Ft. Lauderdale workers’ comp attorney will review your handbook. If it states that employees must use their time if they go out on workers’ comp, they will address it. In certain industries, employees aren’t allowed to take time off during certain periods of the month.
Your attorney will make sure you aren’t forced to use your time or penalized for not doing so.
Your Employer in Ft. Lauderdale Cannot Force You to Use Earned Time Off
As stated above, it is illegal for your employer to make you use your available personal time. If you hadn’t gotten hurt at work, you wouldn’t need to take any time off in the first place.
It’s important that you let your Ft. Lauderdale workers’ comp attorney know if your employer is giving you a hard time. You also need to let them know if your employer threatens to deny your claim since you refuse to use your personal time.
You May Want to Use Your Personal Days Until Your Benefits Start
While your employer cannot force you to use personal time, that doesn’t mean you won’t want to. In the days following your workplace accident, you will not be able to work. This means that your upcoming paycheck (or paychecks) will be short.
If you end up being out of work for more than 21 days, you will receive retroactive pay. But you may still need the income on an immediate basis. If so, you may elect to use some or all of your available time upfront.
You Will Not Be Paid for the First Seven Days You Miss from Work
In Florida, as in most states, you will not be paid workers’ compensation benefits for the first seven days you are out of work. In fact, you are not able to even file your claim until you’ve missed at least seven days.
If you return to work before missing 21 days from work, you will not be paid for the initial seven-day period. This means that you can miss twenty days from work. You will not be paid for the first seven. You will only receive benefits for thirteen days.
If You Miss More than 21 Days, You’ll Be Paid Retroactively
The good news is that, if you are out on workers’ comp for more than 21 days, you’ll be entitled to retroactive pay. Once you meet this threshold, you will receive an additional benefit for the first seven days you missed.
Make sure that you count calendar days, not business days. If you are out more than 21 days and don’t receive your retroactive pay, let your workers’ compensation lawyer in Ft. Lauderdale know.
Contact One of Our Ft. Lauderdale Workers’ Comp Attorneys if You Are Hurt at Work
If you’re injured at work, the last thing you’ll be worried about is using personal time. However, you need to think about the big picture. That’s why we recommend you call a Ft. Lauderdale workers’ comp attorney immediately after your workplace accident.
When you are first injured, you’ll have no idea how long you’ll be out of work. You may want to use your personal time to cover the first seven days. This way, if you are out for more than 21 days, you’ll receive retroactive pay for that period.
We Offer All New Clients a Free, Initial Consultation
Since we offer all new clients a free, initial consultation, it’s in your best interest to give us a call. Sit down with one of our workers’ compensation lawyers in Ft. Lauderdale right away. This way, you know your workers’ compensation claim will be handled properly from the start.