How Long Does an Employer Have to Hold a Job for Someone on Workers’ Compensation?

There are various situations when an employee needs time off. It can be due to being sick or work-related injuries. A business owner must know how long does an employer have to hold a job for someone on workers’ compensation. After all, you don’t always know when they return. You can’t keep their job open forever, especially if they are out for a long time.

Which brings the question, what timeline can you offer someone on workers’ compensation before you find a replacement? It depends on different factors, as you will see below.

Does my employer have to hold my job while on workers’ compensation?

In accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), if you’re an employee on workers’ compensation, you will have approximately 12 weeks to return to work. Of course, this timeline will vary according to your injury, if it was on the job, if you filed any claim, and so on. However, that’s the average timeline for getting back to work. 

Depending on the situation, an employer will have the ability to start finding a replacement for you. It all comes down to the latest local regulations. However, employers aren’t always mandated to hold your job, so they might be able to find a replacement at any given time. 

You would receive workers’ compensation and those benefits if you sustained any injuries at work. You are also entitled to rehabilitation, medical treatments, and lost wages. However, you can’t force the employer to keep your job too. When you’re out for a long time, chances are that your employer can find someone else to replace you. 

However, most employers will hold your job until you come back. Yet if you end up missing for many months, they will be forced to find a replacement. So yes, keep in mind that the employer has to pay workers’ compensation, but it’s not mandatory to hold your job for an unlimited amount of time. 

Can I be terminated while on workers’ compensation?

No, an employer can’t terminate your employment just because you are on worker’s compensation. You will still receive compensation benefits. But that doesn’t mean you are immune to any employment termination. Worker’s compensation can’t be the reason for terminating your employment, but they can find other causes. 

  • For example, poor job performance can easily be one of the main reasons they choose to fire you even if you’re getting worker’s compensation benefits. 
  • The same thing is valid if the company is restructuring and doesn’t need your position anymore. 
  • And aside from that, financial issues unrelated to your performance can be a factor too. So even if you have worker’s compensation with some great benefits, the employer can still find other avenues to fire you. 

Is my job protected while on workers’ compensation?

Aside from knowing how long does an employer have to hold a job for someone on workers’ compensation, you also want to know if your job is protected.

As you can see from our answers above, your job is not always safe, even if you’re out on worker’s compensation. The reason is that companies can always find legal grounds to terminate your employment.

It does depend on the situation; if you were hurt at work and filed a claim, chances are that your employment is safe. However, if you are on worker’s compensation already and you made mistakes or didn’t follow the company policies, they can find ways to fire you. 

Yes, you can’t get fired due to discrimination or retaliation. Yet a company can terminate your employment due to other reasons like the ones shown above. You shouldn’t think that just because you’re getting any worker’s comp benefits, you are safe. Bad performance or even financial issues can lead a company to fire you. 

What is the longest you can be on workers’ compensation?

The amount of worker’s compensation benefits you receive will vary according to different factors. What you will notice is that some regions don’t have any limits. If you still need to be under treatment and can’t work, you will receive medical benefits. There were cases where some workers got these benefits for up to 400 weeks or more. 

It all depends on the complexity of your injuries, the treatments you are taking, and how those affect your work. More complex medical issues will require a longer recovery time, which means you will be on workers’ compensation for a more extended period. 

Can an employer decrease the workers working hours while on workers’ compensation?

No, the employer is not allowed to cut the working hours or penalize you in any way. So if you are on worker’s compensation, you can’t have your working hours cut. Employers will not admit this directly since it’s illegal. But they can sometimes try to find methods they use to help circumvent this process.

However, that leads to legal actions against the company. For the most part, an employer can’t start cutting your working hours if you are receiving worker’s compensation. It’s essential to know how long does an employer have to hold a job for someone on workers’ compensation, but you also want to ensure that your work hours are safe for the time being.

And in this case, they are because employers can’t legally make any changes to your work hours if you’re still receiving worker’s compensation benefits.

What are you allowed to do while on workers’ compensation?

Most people that receive worker’s compensation ask what they can do while they receive these benefits. The short answer is that you can go ahead and continue with your day-to-day life like you usually would. You can’t work unless the doctor offers their stamp of approval. 

You might have the opportunity to file a claim, but that can take time, and not all claims are successful. So you should only consider filing a claim if you have enough proof to back it up. The things you can do while on worker’s compensation will vary based on why you’re getting such benefits. 

For example, if you’re dealing with a temporary total disability, you can’t shovel snow, mow the lawn or perform recreational activities. You can go on a vacation since it’s possible to recoup during that time. If you have a partial disability, you can resume your regular life if the injury/situation allows it.

It’s imperative not to downplay or exaggerate the extent of your injuries. Instead, leave the doctor to assess your situation, as they are the ones that will offer you an accurate representation of this situation. They will also tell you what activities you can do and which you can’t.

What happens if you quit your job while on workers’ compensation?

Many employees wonder how long does an employer have to hold a job for someone on workers’ compensation. But some want to quit their job while they are still receiving worker’s compensation. The question is, what happens if you’re getting these benefits and you want to leave your job? If you decide to go, you will lose any worker’s compensation benefits if you have a partial disability. 

If you qualify for any permanent disability benefits, you will continue receiving those. However, you need to prove that you sustained those injuries at the workplace and they are indeed permanent. Otherwise, your employer can start finding a replacement, not to mention you won’t receive any benefits anymore if the disability/injury only has a temporary fallout.


So, how long does an employer have to hold a job for someone on workers’ compensation? It depends, but there were cases when people got worker’s compensation benefits for 300-400 weeks. It’s essential to talk with the doctor, understand the treatment you need to follow, and then communicate that to the employer.

However, employers can still choose to terminate your contract using reasons unrelated to your injury. Company restructuring and previously reported poor performance can offer your employer legal reasons to terminate your agreement!

Piotr Gacon