If you’re employed in the public sector, you still have the right to claim workers’ compensation if you’re injured on the job. However, workers’ compensation for government employees is different from workers’ comp in the private sector. Federal employees are subject to federal laws; state and local government employees are subject the laws in their respective states and municipalities. There are also certain occupations, such as seamen and railroad workers, that define separate regulations.
All federal employees are protected by the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA). Under this Act, employees can recover benefits if they sustain injuries while performing their duties. Families of federal employees can also receive benefits if the policyholder dies in the line of duty.
It is important for federal employees to note that FECA is available to them regardless of their job position and regardless of how long they’ve been employed with the government.
Local and State Employees
Local and state employees are bound by their state workers’ compensation statutes. If you suffer an injury, you should consult with the state program officials to find out which statutes apply to your case. Employers — including the government — are obligated by law to provide workers with details of their coverage. There should be a workers’ compensation poster at your place of work that provides coverage information and contact information for filing a claim.
The one major exemption for local state or municipality workers is if they are considered “officials” of the state. The definition of a state “official” in this case is very narrow: it means anyone who exercises a portion of the state’s sovereign power. These state “officials” are typically not allowed to collect workers’ compensation.
Compensation Benefits for Government Employees
The Federal Employees Compensation Act provides benefits to workers who are injured while on duty. The following are the benefits available:
Medical benefits are designed to cover for medical treatments, medication, therapy sessions, transportation costs and other medical devices. These costs are met without the use of private insurance or co-paying. The government employee is free to choose their primary care provider. However, any changes in providers must be communicated in good time. The Federal Employees Compensation Act also covers for vocational rehabilitation services.
Temporary Total Disability
If you have suffered a traumatic injury as a government employee, you are also entitled to receive full pay within the first 45 days. Workers who face disabling injuries may be eligible for 2/3 of their total salary. Workers who have dependents may receive 3/4 of their pay.
An employee can face an injury that results in loss of a limb or other permanent injury. In such cases, the workers may receive wage loss benefits. These wages are paid using a schedule stipulated in the statutes. In most states, this type of payment is called the “Schedule Award.”
If a wrongful death happens in the course of carrying out duties, survivors are entitled to death benefits. The spouse, the children, siblings, and dependent parents may receive these benefits. The compensation awarded depends on the input that the deceased was contributing. Polsky, Shouldice, & Rosen P.C.Workers’ compensation lawyers Long Island trusts can advise you on the way forward depending on your relationship with the deceased.
There are instances where government employees may be denied compensation. In such an instance, it is strongly advisable to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Polsky, Shouldice, & Rosen P.C. for their insight into workers compensation for government employees.