Terminating an employee who has been out on workers’ compensation leave is a high-stakes process that requires carefully considering many factors. How well you handle it can affect your ongoing workers’ compensation liability—and could also subject you to claims of wrongful discharge or retaliation.
It’s made all the more complex by the fact that your workers’ comp carrier’s goals may conflict with yours.
The carrier generally wants to get the injured employee back to work as soon as possible. That reduces its liability for wage benefits—temporary total or partial disability payments. As the employer, you may not want the worker back at all for a variety of reasons: a history of poor work performance, a tendency to be accident prone (and the corresponding likelihood that there will be another workers’ comp claim) or the fact that the employee may return with work restrictions that compromise your operations.
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