HR Hotline: What Is Your Obligation to a Worker Injured at a Previous Job?
Q: A recently hired employee informed us that he needs some intermittent time off for physical therapy for a work injury that occurred at his last job. If he had been injured while working for us, we are aware that we’d be required to pay him for time missed to obtain medical care for his work injury. But what’s our obligation, if any, given that he got hurt at a prior job?
The law does not, however, qualify that obligation based on where the injury occurred, other than that it must be a work-related injury covered by the state workers’ compensation law.
Under the law, and the typical workers’ compensation insurance policy, the employer paying wages for time lost from the job for required medical treatment, where the injury occurred at that employer’s workplace, may seek reimbursement from that employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company.
But if the injury occurred at a prior job, the current employer’s workers’ compensation policy does not cover the injury, even though the employee is still entitled to be paid, and the current employer is still obligated to pay for the treatment time at the employee’s regular earnings rate.
If the employee is eligible for any paid time off benefits that would be applicable for sick pay, it seems reasonable that the treatment time wages could be drawn from, or charged off against, accrued PTO benefits, in accordance with company policy regarding the use of PTO benefits for other absences.
And, as I mentioned in a previous HR Hotline post, the wages for treatment time may be characterized as sick pay, “paid…as if it was time lost from work,” rather than wages for time actually worked.
So if these payments tip the worker over 40 hours paid for the week, it only becomes an overtime situation if the company policy is to pay overtime based on “hours paid. ”
However, if company policy is to pay overtime only for total hours actually worked, then the treatment time wages are not included in the overtime calculation.
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