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Pay for workers’ comp evaluation?

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Q. We have an employee who has filed a workers’ compensation claim. Our attorneys have asked the employee to go to our insurance company’s doctor for an evaluation. This will keep the employee away from work the whole day. Do we have to pay the employee for going to the doctor, or may we classify it as a personal day?

A. Even though the doctor’s appointment is part of handling the employee’s workers’ compensation claims, you must pay the employee for the missed time. Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals found that under U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulations, the time an employee spends waiting for and receiving medical attention on the employer’s premises or at the employer’s direction during working hours constitutes hours worked.

According to a DOL opinion letter, an entity acting on behalf of an employer (such as your workers’ comp administrator) can bind the employer for purposes of directing medical appointments. The letter explains that “[i]f the employer or the employer’s agent (insurance carrier) arranged for the employee to see a doctor during the employee’s normal working hours, the time spent traveling to and from and visiting the doctor’s office would be compensable hours of work.”

Because your company’s attorneys and insurance company directed the employee to attend the appointment, your company must pay the employee.

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