Can an Employer Lay Off an Employee on Massachusetts Workers Compensation?

As your Massachusetts workers compensation experts, we have been taking it upon ourselves to answer your frequently asked questions. This week, we are focusing on this question:

Can an employer lay off an employee on workers compensation?
The answer: Yes and No. Allow us to break both answers down for you…
Yes: If the employer was planning on laying off this employee even if they were still on the job, the fact that they are on workers compensation leave does NOT prevent the employer from laying the employee off. There is NO law that requires employers to give special treatment to a worker who is on workers comp leave. An employer can also fire an employee for poor performance even if the employee has filed a workers comp claim.

In addition, an employer can include an employee in a reduction in workforce if the employer picked the specific employee for some other reason besides the fact that the employee is on workers comp at that point in time. In this case, workers comp benefits for the employee WILL continue.

No: There is one case when it is wrongful to lay off an employee. If an employer decides to lay off an employee BECAUSE they are off work receiving workers compensation benefits, this may lead to a case of illegal retaliation. There are state laws that prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who ask for and receive these benefits. As an employer, you CANNOT fire, demote, harass, lay off or harm an employee because of this (they are exercising their rights under the workers compensation system!) Any employee who is a victim of this unlawful retaliation can sue and win the case.

If you have any other questions or concerns about your Massachusetts workers compensation policy, do not hesitate to contact our experts at Wolpert Insurance. Also, be sure to check out our Youtube page for question and answer updates!