Do I have to use sick time for workers’ comp?

When you are hurt in the scope of your employment, you can usually turn to the workers’ compensation insurance provided by your company. Unfortunately, some people try to rely on sick time or paid time off (PTO) alone. While PTO can be used when needed during this time, it can hurt your workers’ compensation claim in some cases or may be unnecessary.

Because your benefits may hang in the balance, do not hesitate to ask for legal help when you have questions like, “Do you have to use sick time for workers comp?” Your Chicago workers’ compensation attorney with our team can help you protect your sick time and workers’ comp benefits, maximizing your ability to get fairly compensated.

Man with broken arm working from home wondering if he has to use sick time for workers comp

Can an employer make you use sick time for workers’ compensation?

While some people may consider using sick time following a work injury or illness, your employer cannot force you to use sick time when you have workers’ compensation. If you have suffered catastrophic injuries or fallen ill because of your employment. In that case, you are not required to use your PTO, and any sick leave used instead of disability benefits may be credited back to you, according to 820 ILCS 305/8(j). Requirements like this from your employer may indicate bad faith.

Your employer may try to avoid filing a workers’ comp claim because more accidents can lead to higher premiums. Those higher premiums may affect your employer’s profits, which they may have prioritized over their workers. Unfortunately, that leads some employers to take measures to avoid these situations.

Because of this, while employers cannot make you use your sick time for a work injury or illness, some may still try. Fortunately, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission provides tools to report bad-faith tactics and fraud, leading to an appeal if you are denied or action against your employer. Talk with our personal injury law firm if you believe your employer uses bad-faith tactics like these.

When are you required to use sick time?

According to the Illinois Department of Labor, the Employee Sick Leave Act allows employees to use their sick time for more than themselves. For example, if you need to take a personal leave to care for an ill family member, that right is protected under the Sick Leave Act. That means you have the freedom to use your PTO as you choose.

Some employees may also use their PTO to supplement their compensation benefits, especially if they do not have total temporary disability benefits under 40 ILCS 5/14-123.1 and still work. While your wage replacement benefits may cover part of your wages, you will not have 100% of your income covered. However, your employer cannot require you to use your sick time this way, and if you are expected to do so, you may have grounds to pursue a claim against your employer.

Remember that your PTO is still available, even if you are currently collecting workers’ compensation benefits. You may take PTO for medical needs and appointments. However, using it should be your choice, not your employer’s. Reach out to Horowitz, Horwitz & Associates if you are facing pushback on these benefits from your employer or their insurance company.

How can our lawyers help negotiate a workers’ comp claim if you were initially denied?

If you struggle to navigate your workers’ comp claim, particularly regarding your sick time, reach out for a free consultation. We can help you move through the claims process, negotiate disputes, and protect your right to compensation. To learn more about what is next for your claim, call (800) 985-1819 or complete our online contact form to schedule your free consultation today.