One of the first questions injured workers frequently ask is “Will my employer fire me for getting hurt at work?” Answer – legally, they cannot. The North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discharge Act (REDA) strictly forbids an employer from firing an injured worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
However, that doesn’t stop an injured worker from worrying and stressing over how the accident will affect his or her job with the employer. The added worry and lack of understanding of the Workers’ Compensation Act by both parties sometimes leads to confusion, doubt, and unnecessary stress. Occasionally an injured worker with a serious accident will decide not to file a claim because s/he is worried about how it will affect his/her relationship with the employer. Both sides can lose when this happens. The employee is now stuck with significant medical bills and the employer runs the risk of losing a very good worker.
The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) recently published an article confirming the stress encountered by many injured workers. The study found that workers who are concerned that they may be fired after filing a workers’ compensation claim have longer disability durations than workers who feel secure in their employment. These workers were also less satisfied with their medical care.
Despite the fact that the Workers’ Compensation Act is a no-fault system, it’s clear that injured workers and employers could use ongoing education about workers’ compensation claims. When an injured employee is able to return to work, and feel secure about his/her position with the company, everyone wins.