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Do I Have to Take Time Off for Work Injury?

You do not need to take time off if you are injured at work, although it is overwhelmingly likely you will miss at least some amount of work as a result of your injuries. The Fair Labor Standards Act regulation 29 CFR 785.43 states that any time spent by an employee either waiting for or receiving medical attention on the premises of the employer or at the direction of the employer, during working hours on days where the employee normally works, are considered hours worked.

This means that under any of those circumstances, you must be paid for any time spent waiting for and receiving medical attention. This does not just mean doctor visits, but also physical therapy, x-rays, or any other type of medical services you might be receiving as a result of your work-related injury. This scenario most often arises on the day of the injury, when the employer directs the employee to get medical attention. It also occurs in situations when your employer requires you to go to a specific doctor at specific times. This can often be a condition of continued employment, and therefore you must be compensated for complying.

What About Employees Who See Their Own Doctor?

Some employees injured on the job prefer to go see their own doctor, and may need medical attention initially during working hours, or as a follow-up appointment. Follow-up appointments with your own medical provider are not made “at the direction of the employer” as they are scheduled by the injured employee with their own doctor. Because of this, such time is usually not considered “hours worked” and would therefore be treated the same way as other employee absence due to medical appointments, which means using either paid time off or sick leave. There is sometimes a collective bargaining agreement in place that requires the employer to pay for medical treatment due to workplace injury even if the treatment is not considered work hours under federal law.

As a general rule, you should be very cautious deciding to see your own doctor, rather than seeing the doctor provided by your employer. Aside from potentially not being paid for your time getting medical care if you see your own provider, you may also not be able to seek coverage for your actual medical expenses, if your provider is not an authorized workers’ compensation provider highlighted by your employer. It is always the safest bet to visit a doctor already approved and suggested by your employer or the insurance carrier for your insurer.

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