My employee sustained an injury on the job a few months ago. He is claiming that we have to pay for his doctor’s and therapy appointments. Is this true?
Generally, an employer is required to pay the employee only on the day of the injury/for time spent waiting for and receiving treatment.
Day of Injury
The U.S. Department of Labor has addressed this issue, stating, “Time spent by an employee in waiting for and receiving medical attention on the premises or at the direction of the employer during the employee’s normal working hours on days when he is working constitutes hours worked.”
Employers should not try to dodge this requirement by having the employee seek treatment after their shift. The law is very protective of injured workers, and treatment should be prompt.
However, follow-up appointments and therapy appointments are not dictated by the employer, and therefore are not payable as work time for hourly employees.
Employees can use their sick leave, paid time off (PTO) or vacation pay to cover these appointments, like any other doctor’s appointment. They also can schedule these actions after their shift, if possible.
It is also important to remind employees to keep these appointments, as failure to do so could result in their claim being terminated.
Lastly, keep in mind that not all injuries require medical treatment at all. Injuries that can be treated with first aid do not require a trip to the doctor or emergency room.
Also, some employees don’t want to go to the doctor, and unless their injury is severe, the employer cannot force them to do so. In those situations, it is recommended to have the employee sign an acknowledgement that they do not wish to seek medical attention.
Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred members and above. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at www.hrcalifornia.com.