What are my rights if I’ve been working as a salaried employee for 1 month and a contractor for 1 month before that and was injured while off the job?

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What are my rights if I’ve been working as a salaried employee for 1 month and a contractor for 1 month before that and was injured while off the job?

I just sustained an injury while off the job that will prevent me from completing my assigned duties for about 2-3 months. Does my employer have any obligation to make accommodations to my job (there are other tasks I could do for the company)? Is my employer required to hold my job for me until I can return without restrictions?

Asked on June 14, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you have medical evidence of a temporary disability, then the employer may have to make "reasonable accomodations" for you. However, reasonable accomodation do *not* mean they have to let you do "other tasks"--you were hired to do a certain job, and the employer does not need to give you a different job. Rather, if there a "reasonable" things they can do (not too expensive or disruptive) to let you actually do the job you were hired to do, they need to do those things. Examples include letting someone who normally stands to work (like a cashier) sit if he/she hurt a foot or leg and the job can be done while sitting; getting a wrist rest for someone with carpal tunnel; etc. If there are no such reasonable accomodations which will let you do the job you were hired to do, they don't have to make accommodations.

If you take time off (including because you can't do your job) and both you and your company are covered by the terms of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)--which unfortunately, you may not qualify for, since to qualify, you must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the past 12 months; must have worked at least 12 months total for this employer (not necessarily consecutively); and also, the location at which you work must have at least 50 employees working for this employer within a 75-mile radius--then they have to hold your position for you during your unpaid leave. However, if you don't take FMLA leave or FMLA does not apply to you or your location, then they do not have to hold your job. (They may choose to, but if they do, it is purely voluntary.)


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