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Workers Compensation -State Disability - PTO California

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  • Workers Compensation -State Disability - PTO California

    I have been forced to use over 200 consecutive hours of accrued PTO time after filing a Workers Comp Claim (currently in Delay status and pending SDI claim as well.) The length of time is primarily due to delays of the WC process such as waiting for Authorization, scheduling DR appointments, etc. In the meantime my PTO has slipped away and I believe my employer may have misapplied the guidelines forcing me to use my PTO in this situation.

    Our Employee Handbook only has the following statements as taken from various sections of our handbook that appear to be related to the use of PTO and WC.

    Paid Time Off

    Paid Time Off may be taken at any time during the year, subject to supervisory approval, and may only be taken up to –40 hours, not to exceed the annual maximum accrual.

    Unpaid Time Off

    With the exception of Military Leave, employees are required to use available PTO for absences and leaves. Once all available PTO has been exhausted (up to –40 hours), an employee may request unpaid time off.

    Leaves of Absence

    With the exception of Military Leave, or as otherwise required by law, employees must use available PTO prior to taking unpaid leave.

    Workers Compensation

    XXX reserves the right, when applicable, to designate workers compensation time off as FMLA leave.

    All Paid Time Off must be taken prior to taking unpaid FMLA.

    Please help me...this policy seems contradictory, unclear, and unfairly applied.

    Any comments would be greatly appreciated

  • #2
    >>this policy seems contradictory, unclear, and unfairly applied.<<

    CA is a unique animal unto itself, so there could easily be state laws affecting this of which I am unaware. However, to respond to your above comment, unless I misread it, the policy sounded very clear but you are correct in that it appears your er is violating its own policy. That in itself is not illegal, merely unwise and perhaps stupid if it weakens any future attempts to claim the policy must be enforced if another ee wants an exception made like they have for you.

    The policy says PTO must be used before unpaid leave. That is generally not intended to be punitive but rather to help keep an ee's paycheck whole. Otherwise some misinformed young entrepenuer might come along and think they can extend something like FMLA leave by first taking unpaid leave, and then throw a fit when they find out all they accomplished was putting off a week's pay. We have the same policy.

    What is inconsitent here is that the policy puts a cap of using one week of PTO which they have waived in your case. I can think of one good reason why this might be. The cap is likely to prevent employees from just disappearing for weeks at a time, since many employers can't afford to have ee's be gone for too long. However in your case, I gather you were not just taking off voluntarily but I'm guessing if you've applied for WC that you had a job related injury. So if the purpose of the policy is to prevent people from just voluntarily taking off for weeks, that would not apply in your case and would be reasonable grounds for them waiving their rule in an effort to keep your paycheck intact until the WC dust settles.

    Do you have an objection to having your paycheck kept intact? Could you have afforded to go weeks without pay due to the WC delay?
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    • #3
      Workers Compensation -State Disability - PTO Blues

      Thank you for the reply...this has been so difficult to gather facts or direction regarding this matter. I am providing some additional details below in the hope that you may be able to offer further comments and opinion.

      A WC claim was initiated on Jan 21, 09 and I immediately attempted to schedule a Dr. appointment (non emergency). On Jan 23, I found that the Dr must be within a Medical Providers Network (MPN) and must gain authorization from WC claim manager...and then the delays began to unfold. First the authorization, then the Dr had to accept me as a patient, then an appointment could be scheduled...which finally occurred on Feb 6 (13 days after my claim started.)

      At some point in the midst of all of this, I received a Delay letter from WC for my claim. So, during my Dr. visit I also filed a claim for State Disability to cover any loss of wages that may occur. I tried to clarify the PTO policy with my HR manager and I indicated I was concerned about utilizing my PTO when this injury should be compensated via WC (which reimburses SD when a claim is finally approved). I was lead to believe that a preservation and recovery of my PTO would be resolved.

      I then received notification from SD that I was not eligible for benefits because my employer has continued my full pay--yet this was with my earned PTO that I would have desperately chosen to preserve beyond the standard WC waiting period, which I believe is 7 days.

      So, as it stands...I have been given no option and my employer continued to force utilization of PTO (over 200 hours now).

      Yes...I would have preferred to receive the SD or WC reduced payments to keep my PTO that I will still likely require throughout the remainder of this is only February and I will have nothing left when this passes.

      Please help with any guidance or further clarification that you can offer.


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