Do Employers Have to Hold Your Job While on Workers’ Comp in Massachusetts?

All employers in Massachusetts must carry Workers’ Compensation insurance for their employees. This insurance provides injured workers with crucial benefits during their long and painful recoveries.

Your employer must hold your job for you while you are on Workers’ Compensation leave in Massachusetts. However, they do not have to hold your exact position. Rather, when you return, you must be offered a position that is suitable and comparable to the one you held before you were hurt.

If you were injured on the job in Massachusetts, seek guidance from our experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys by calling the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407.

Job Protection While on Workers’ Compensation in Massachusetts

As previously mentioned, your employer is required to hold your job while you are on Workers’ Compensation leave. In fact, you cannot be retaliated against whatsoever. This means that your employer cannot terminate your employment or take any adverse actions against you solely because you are on Workers’ Compensation.

It is important to note that while your job is protected, your employer is not obligated to hold your exact position indefinitely. Instead, they are required to offer you a suitable and comparable job when you are able to return to work. This job protection is designed to support workers in their journey to recovery and reintegration into the workforce. If you believe your employer has violated these job protection rights or have any concerns about your Workers’ Compensation benefits, then our Fall River, MA Workers’ Compensation attorneys can provide you with the guidance you need to navigate your complicated situation.

Examples of Employer Retaliation that Are Prohibited in Massachusetts

There are many different ways that employers may retaliate against employees who are receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits. If you have suffered any of the following, then the team at our firm will provide you with guidance and support:

Reduced Hours and Responsibilities

Employers may engage in retaliation by reducing the work hours and responsibilities of a Workers’ Compensation claimant upon their return to work. For instance, after recovering from a work-related injury, an employee might find that their employer has significantly cut their work hours, resulting in a significant reduction in their income. In addition, the employer might assign the employee less important tasks that are not in line with their skills and qualifications. This form of retaliation aims to discourage the employee from pursuing their Workers’ Compensation rights, creating an uncomfortable and discouraging work environment.

Harassment and Hostile Treatment

Retaliation can manifest as harassment and hostile treatment towards Workers’ Compensation claimants. This may involve subjecting the employee to constant criticism, unwarranted disciplinary actions, or isolating them from colleagues. For example, an employee who files a Workers’ Compensation claim after a workplace injury might experience increased scrutiny and unwarranted reprimands from their supervisor, leading to a tense and distressing work atmosphere. Such behavior is intended to create stress and pressure on the employee, potentially pushing them to withdraw their claim or leave their job altogether.

Wrongful Termination

One of the most severe forms of retaliation is wrongful termination. In this scenario, an employer dismisses an employee after they have filed a Workers’ Compensation claim, often under the guise of unrelated reasons. For instance, an employee who is recovering from a workplace injury and is receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits might suddenly be terminated for alleged performance issues. The true motive, however, is to retaliate against the employee for asserting their rights. Wrongful termination not only deprives the employee of their livelihood but also sends a message to other employees about the consequences of pursuing Workers’ Compensation claims.

Unfair Changes in Job Status

Retaliation can also take the form of unfavorable changes in job status. This might involve demotions, loss of promotions, or sudden transfers to less desirable positions or locations. For instance, an employee who returns to work after a work-related injury might find themselves demoted from a managerial role to an entry-level position, with no legitimate reason provided for the demotion. These changes are intended to undermine the employee’s career and financial stability, discouraging them from seeking Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Isolation and Ostracization

Employers might retaliate by isolating and ostracizing Workers’ Compensation claimants from their colleagues and workplace activities. This can involve excluding the employee from team meetings, social events, or important projects. For instance, an employee who is on Workers’ Compensation leave due to a workplace injury might be intentionally excluded from department meetings and team-building activities. This isolation can lead to feelings of alienation and humiliation, making the work environment increasingly uncomfortable for the employee.

Further Accommodations for Workers’ Compensation Claimants in Massachusetts

Workers’ compensation claimants are entitled to certain protections when they are returning to work after their on-the-job injuries. The laws of Massachusetts emphasize the importance of providing reasonable accommodations to employees who are medically cleared to return to work but may have restrictions as a result of their injuries.

When you are returning from Workers’ Compensation leave, your employer is legally obligated to engage in an interactive process with you to determine if reasonable accommodations can be made to facilitate a smooth transition back to work. Reasonable accommodations might include adjustments to your job duties, modifying your work schedule, altering your work environment, or providing assistive devices. The goal is of these accommodations is to ensure that you can perform your job effectively while adhering to any medical restrictions you are under.

In cases where a return to your previous job is not possible because of the nature of your injury, your employer is expected to make reasonable efforts to find suitable alternative position within their company. This commitment to reasonable accommodations not only protects your rights but also fosters a work environment that prioritizes your well-being as you transition back to the workforce.

Contact Our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys for Help with Your Case in Massachusetts

Get assistance from our experienced Boston Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan by calling (617) 925-6407.