Disciplining or Terminating a Workers' Comp Claimant

HR Resource
September 18, 2012 — 1,675 views  
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Even though firing someone is an extremely unpleasant task, sometimes certain people need to be let go in order for a company to succeed. This could be due to downsizing, outsourcing or worker incompetence. Disciplining or terminating a worker's compensation claimant can be a tricky task for workers comp managers, as certain unpaid debts might need to be taken care of first.

If you find yourself in this position and are unsure of what to do, consider some of the following tips when figuring out how to implement a termination.

Workers' rights

In 1978, the Illinois Supreme Court issued multiple rulings on the issue of terminating workers who are currently entitled to compensation, and the most important ruling was written as follows.

“Retaliatory discharge is offensive to the public policy of this state as stated in the Workmen’s Compensation Act. This policy can only be effectively implemented and enforced by allowing a civil remedy for damages, distinct from any criminal sanctions which may be imposed on employers for violating the Act after 1975."

Obviously, it is illegal and immoral for employers to terminate an employee for claiming workers compensation, even in the case of gross negligence or fraud. As a workers compensation manager, you need to be able to prove that the person in question is either taking advantage of the system or failing to adhere to job duties.

Reasons to terminate a claim

According to a report by Rusin, Maciorowski and Friedman on workers compensation, there are several reasons that can result in a workers comp claimant termination. These are:

1.) Failure to return to work upon a doctor’s release.

2.) Failure to show up at work or report in as to the reason you are not at work. For example, not calling or showing up for three days.

3.) Failure to return to work within a prescribed time period for any reason. For example, off work more than 26 weeks or 52 weeks.

4.) Failure to submit medical documentation as to disability.

5.) Misconduct, any type from harassment to insubordination.

6.) Failure to perform work duties properly.

7.) Falsification of data or workers compensation fraud.

These WC statutes, coupled with retaliation claims, can be used to authorize a termination or discipline a claim. However, if you cannot find fault in an employee for the above reasons, there is technically no applicable way to fire a claimant.

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