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Physical therapy on the clock New Jersey

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  • Physical therapy on the clock New Jersey

    I was posting this for a friend since there's always such great help on here. I'll give whatever info I have and hopefully it'll be some help.

    A coworker was injured at work, on the clock. Because of the injury sustained, he was required to visit the medical facility approved by worker's compensation. After some initial therapy, the injury was found to be much more severe than first seen. He was allowed to return to work with light-duty and has to attend a few sessions a week of physical therapy. The facility required by worker's comp only has sessions during the work day, he must leave during the day to attend (around 2 hour sessions). He was considered being on his regular schedule.

    Recently, since the therapy had taken longer than the initial assumption, the worker's manager was frustrated at losing the working hours to therapy sessions (an obvious concern). HR said that the worker's hours should never have been covered during the day for therapy and are now stating that any hours lost during the day to therapy sessions have to be recovered by the worker using sick/vacation/etc. time.

    We thought this sounded sort of strange. We have a short term disability(STD) and long term disability(LTD) package at work. From what I know, the company did not initially want to have to go through insurance since the worker was still attending work for the majority of the time and also was completing a portion of their duties. Now that it is a bit busier, it became an issue and they are trying to take back hours from the last pay period saying sick time must be used. It seems a little silly since the worker could have taken the STD package and it would have covered 100% of their salary while the person stayed home, but instead the worker decided it was better to still help out where possible at work and essentially "earn" the money they are being payed.

    I was just wondering what goes on from here. Are they able to just go ahead and tell the person they are no longer paying for their time lost due to therapy sessions? It is also not the case of the person screwing around at work and getting hurt. He was injured because he was told to do a job with improper equipment and not knowingly ended up sustaining some very severe injuries. Even after that, when the doctor gave him the option of staying home to complete therapy or going back with only light duty, he chose to return to work.

    As always, thank you all in advance for the great information you always have on here. It's really appreciated.

  • #2
    Go here... and read through chapter 10 on Temporary Disability, this will explain the statute. I don't see anything relating to "TPD", Temporary Partial Disability. But, he could possibly be eligible for one day of TTD based on the accumulation of hours spent at PT... I don't know that to be true, it could depend on case law.
    There is some reference to what would appear to be 'TPD' in section N.J.S.A. 34:15-37, pg 58
    And temp disability benefits would however still be subject to the max rates, and 70% of the average wages. Meaning, if he is working light duty, and earning a wage at or above 70% of his average wage, he would not receive temp disabilty benefits.

    If that is the case, the ER is allowing the use of vacation/sick time etc to supplement the earnings.

    As to the choice of filing a claim for WC benefits, or opting to STD/LTD benefits and using his personal health coverage...that would be a 'no'....WC is generally the exclusive remedy for an industrial injury. There is no reason the personal IC providing health care would be liable for a work related injury where the ER is holding liability.

    Other FAQ's for IW's in NJ are available here...

    If he is eligible for FMLA leave, that should be applied for, as FMLA would protect his job and ER provided benefits for up to 12 weeks/annum. Including the ER contribution of health coverage etc.
    FMLA can be used intermittantly too....


    • #3
      There is only one state that requires employers count time spent at doctor's appointments and in treatment as hours worked and it isn't NJ. In the 49 other states, the fact that it is a WC injury has no bearing on the use of leave or loss of pay associated with attending such appointments. It is treated just like it would be if he was injured at home and needed to leave in the middle of the workday to attend PT. It was generous of the employer to not charge him any time or loss of pay up until now. What can be done for a few weeks can not necessarily be done for a longer period of time. Now that PT is taking up more time, perhaps it is causing a problem at work and the employer simply can't afford to continue as they did in the beginning.

      Perhaps he can work something out with the therapist and his employer to minimize the disruption to the workplace. Maybe it would make things easier if he came in late or left early or went during a slow period in the day.

      If he is in something work hardening where he is missing a substantial portion of the day, then he needs to inquire about TPD as CAIW suggested.
      I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


      • #4
        Physical Therapy On the Clock

        Would the lone state be Pennsylvania? I have an employee, working light duty, who requires therapy 3x per week. Should he be compensated for his time at therapy?


        • #5
          Nope, CT is the only state that requires this. In every other state, it is up to the employer.
          I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


          • #6
            I'm guessing it falls into the "they can do what they want" rule, but I had heard that salaried employees (in the similar situation) do get "paid" for their work time spent for pt without having to make it up. Just wanted to see if this means anything.


            • #7
              If by "salaried", you mean "exempt", there are strict docking rules in play. An employer cannot dock an exempt employee for a partial day absence unless the absence is FMLA-related. This is not true for nonexempt (generally speaking, hourly-paid) employees.
              I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


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