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Fear of termination slows recovery of injured workers


When a worker in Pennsylvania suffers from any injury at work, the law allows for the injured worker to collect workers' compensation from the employer. Such compensation can cover wages lost while the worker is recovering from injuries and it can also be used for meeting medical expenses incurred due to the workplace injury.

However, sometimes a workers' compensation claim is not always well received by the employer, who may seek reprisal against the worker, translating into workplace discrimination or even termination. A series of reports recently released by the Workers Compensation Research Institute reveals that when a worker is afraid of employer reprisal, it may take the worker a longer time to heal from injuries suffered. Workers who feel secure in their employment exhibit shorter durations of disability, conversely.

These reports resulted from studies involving a sample group of more than 3,000 employees from different parts of the country, including Pennsylvania. The difference between disability durations of secure workers versus insecure workers is almost four weeks, according to the study. The WCRI also found that lack of trust in an employer, and fear of job insecurity is also proportional to dissatisfaction with workers' compensation medical care.

It is usually in the best interest of both employer and worker to ensure that recovery is as quick as possible to rejoin the work force. Therefore, if these reports are indeed true, employers must ensure that injured workers do not fear getting fired if they claim compensation for injuries. Of course, if the worker is fired and not paid due compensation, the worker can always seek recourse through employment laws and the courts with a lawsuit against the offending employer.

Source: BusinessInsurance.com, "Feelings of employment security help injured workers heal faster: WCRI," Sheena Harrison, June 19, 2014

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