If you are injured on the job in Arkansas and will miss time at work, you likely worry if your employer has a duty to hold your job while you recover. While you are entitled to file a Workers’ Compensation claim for your workplace accident, most employers are not technically obligated to keep you on staff.
In many cases, an employer will try to accommodate an injured worker when they return to the job, but they are not obligated to keep you if you can no longer perform your work responsibilities. The only hard rule against your termination is that an employer cannot fire you in retaliation for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. If they do, you could receive your benefits even if you are not currently employed. However, employers can use many pretenses to fire you depending on the type of employee you are considered.
Call us today at (479) 316-0438 to speak with our dedicated Arkansas Workers’ Compensation attorneys and receive your free case evaluation.
Does My Employer Need to Keep Me on Staff While on Workers’ Compensation in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, Workers’ Compensation Laws safeguard individuals from being discriminated against or fired due to filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. Nevertheless, your employer is not obligated to keep your position open while you are on disability leave caused by a workplace injury. If your employer does decide to fire you, though, you could still be eligible for compensation for up to a year. This issue is often not clear-cut since requirements will be different depending on whether you are an at-will or contract employee.
As an at-will employee in Arkansas, your employer has the legal right to terminate your employment without providing a specific cause. In general, at-will employees are those that work without any kind of employment contract, like retail and serving positions. An employer can choose to fire an at-will employee for various legal reasons that are completely unrelated to your Workers’ Compensation claim, such as unsatisfactory job performance, layoffs, or an inability to perform your job duties after returning to work from your accident. However, an employer should strive to accommodate you after getting injured before going straight to terminating you.
It is against the law in Arkansas for an employer to terminate an employee for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. This is why it is important to have our Bella Vista Workers’ Compensation lawyers review your case to determine if you have been the victim of retaliation. Retaliation can also include disciplining, demoting, reassigning, or otherwise penalizing employees who have filed a claim. However, proving retaliation can be extremely difficult since there could be several legal reasons your employer could use to terminate your employment, despite having filed a Workers’ Compensation claim.
As a contract worker, your employment agreement should contain job protections that your employer must adhere to, including any restrictions or limitations on firing you after getting injured. Compared to at-will employees, contract workers are usually harder to fire since an employer must have a good reason for breaking an employment contract. If your employer unjustly refuses to let you work or fires you, they will typically have to compensate you for up to a year’s worth of lost wages and medical expenses under your Workers’ Compensation claim.
Like at-will employees, an employer is prohibited by law from taking retaliatory measures against a contract employee who files a Workers’ Compensation claim. This means that you cannot be subjected to demotion, reassignment, or a hostile work environment as a result of submitting a claim for benefits.
If you suspect that your employer has taken retaliatory actions against you for exercising your legal rights, it is crucial to collect evidence that supports your claim. This can include important evidence like emails, memos, your termination notice, copies of company policies, your employee handbook, and performance reviews you received. These records can show that your employer had no legitimate reason to fire you.
Can My Employer Replace Me If I’m Injured While on the Job in Arkansas?
In the case of a workplace injury, an employer is typically required to keep an injured employee’s position open while they recover and determine if they can return to their previous role. However, if your injury causes significant impairments and limitations that prevent you from resuming your former job, your employer is not obligated to keep you. In some cases, the worker might be able to transition to a less strenuous position, but this accommodation must usually be approved by the employer.
Essentially, your employer has the right to find the proper employees to do the job offered. While they cannot fire you just for claiming Workers’ Compensation benefits, they are not required to retain you if your injuries prevent you from doing your job. Your employer can act to get the personnel they need to fill your role. If your employer has a “right to return” policy, you should check it to see what rights your employer considers you to have. Your employer’s policy might also contain details on how to accommodate injured workers if they offer transitional work.
Will I Still Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits If I’m Fired in Arkansas?
The short answer is yes. As per the Workers’ Compensation laws in Arkansas, your employer is usually required to compensate you for the difference between your average weekly wage and any benefits received, for a maximum period of one year. However, employers are only required to pay benefits if the employee was terminated without reasonable cause. This means that you could lose out on benefits if your employer has a valid reason for letting you go. At-will employees are especially vulnerable since an employer can use virtually any reason for firing an employee.
Can I Get Workers’ Compensation in Arkansas If I Voluntarily Resign from My Job
There are several reasons why people resign from their jobs, such as relocating to a different place or getting a higher-paying job opportunity. Being on Workers’ Compensation does not mean that you are locked into your current place of employment until your benefits are exhausted. However, voluntarily resigning from your position could affect your ability to receive benefits depending on what stage of the Workers’ Compensation process you are in.
It is likely that you will still receive benefits for your medical expenses in most situations. However, if you decide to quit your job, you may no longer qualify for benefits that compensate for your lost income. It is generally advised not to leave your job if your Workers’ Compensation claim is being actively contested or still unsettled. So, if you choose to accept a different job, your benefits may be significantly decreased or cut off altogether.
Our Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Can Help
For a free case review with our Fayetteville Workers’ Compensation lawyers, contact us today at (479) 316-0438.