I’m a registered nurse who often works very long hours. It’s not uncommon for me to work 16-18 hour days. I was injured at work and have returned to work with restrictions and instructions to attend physical therapy three times a week.
Leaving work early to attend a physical therapy appointment during the therapist’s business hours would cause an extreme inconvenience for my team- My supervisor is not willing to allow my dismissal from work early enough to attend PT. He has told me to seek treatment on my scheduled days off- but my days off are sometimes weekends when the therapist is not open.
I’m in a lot of pain and it took several days for my supervisor to file my claim- I don’t want to delay treatment any longer. Is my supervisor required to let me leave work early to attend appointments that are necessary due to the injury I sustained at work? Do I use my PTO to cover that time off?
Thank you for any information you can provide.
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Dear Anonymous RN,
Thank you for the email. Yes, your employer should let you leave work to attend therapy appointments for your work-related injury. You don’t have to use your PTO to successfully receive treatment.
Treatment Under Maryland’s Workers’ Comp System
When you receive medical treatment for a work-related injury, your doctor may place restrictions on your work performance. This is what happened in your case.
When there are restrictions and therapy is recommended, an employer must comply with the restrictions and provide reasonable time off to seek treatment and therapy. You aren’t expected to use PTO just to attend the therapy that your doctor recommended.
According to this website:
“Your employer or your employer’s insurer will pay for your doctor’s visits and treatments if the injury is covered under Workers’ Compensation.”
The website also informs that your employer has to reimburse you for any lost wages and/or travel expenses if you do receive treatment during working hours.
As to wage reimbursement benefits, the site states:
“In addition to any other compensation paid to a covered employee entitled to compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Act, the employer or its insurer is required to reimburse the covered employee for lost wages due to time spent being examined by a physician or other examiner at the request of the employer or its insurer and time spent attending and traveling to and from a Commission hearing scheduled as a result of a continuance caused by action of the employer or its insurer, if the claimant is otherwise entitled to compensation benefits.”
Issues of Reasonable Accommodations
You mentioned in your email that your supervisor is not willing to allow you to attend PT because attendance would cause an inconvenience for your team. Your supervisor might mean that attendance would serve as an undue hardship.
The term “undue hardship” often arises when an injured worker returns to work after an injury and suffers from certain physical restrictions due to the injury. When this occurs, the employer must provide the worker with reasonable accommodations to help the employee transfer back to work safely. However, an employer is not obligated to provide these accommodations when it poses an undue hardship.
If the employer cannot provide you with work that meets your medical restrictions, including allowing you to leave work to attend your prescribed physical therapy treatments, you may be eligible to stay home and draw workers’ comp wage benefits until you are fully recovered from your injuries.
Contact a Local Injury Attorney for Help
You might want to talk with your supervisor or human resources administrator about the conflict. However, if your conversation doesn’t change matters, it’s probably time to speak with a personal injury attorney.
An injury lawyer can write a letter on your behalf, to your employer, that sets forth the applicable law and an employer’s requirements when it comes to scheduling doctor’s appointments.
Learn more here: Returning to Work After Injury
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.
We wish you the best with your claim,
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