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When should an employee who was injured on the job be paid for time to attend related doctor's appointments?

The Fair Labor Standards Act regulation 29 CFR 785.43 lays out the following rules for employers that have employees in need of medical attention during working hours: “Time spent by an employee in waiting for and receiving medical attention on the premises or at the direction of the employer during the employee’s normal working hours on days when he is working constitutes hours worked.” This means that in those circumstances, employees must be paid for the time spent waiting for and receiving medical attention. This scenario usually takes place on the day of the injury, when the employer is directing the employee to get medical attention that day. It can also occur when the employer requires injured employees to go to a specific doctor, possibly at specific times, and often as a condition of continued employment.

But what about employees injured on the job who see their own doctor and may need medical attention either during or outside of working hours as a follow-up appointment? These follow-up appointments are not “at the direction of the employer”; rather, they are scheduled by the employee, generally with the doctor of his or her choice. Typically, such time would not be considered “hours worked,” but would be paid or unpaid in the same way any other employee’s absences due to medical appointments would be paid. This usually involves following policy guidelines for using sick leave or PTO.

An employer under a collective bargaining agreement should review the agreement for language that may subject the employer to paying for treatment due to a workplace injury even if the treatment isn’t considered hours worked under federal law.

Finally, employers will want to carefully consider any applicable state laws. Contact the workers’ compensation agency in your state for more guidance.


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