If you have a workers’ comp case in New Hampshire, odds are that you’ll eventually be able to return to work in some shape or form. But what if there’s no job to return to? Can your employer fire you while you’re out on workers’ comp leave? Or refuse to take you back once you’ve recovered? Must it offer you an alternative job that fits your qualifications? Below, we explain the right to reinstatement in workers’ comp in New Hampshire.
In all states, including New Hampshire, it’s illegal for employers to retaliate against employees because of a work injury, which includes firing an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, unlike other states, New Hampshire gives another level of job protection to injured workers.
New Hampshire employers with five or more employees must provide reinstatement to an injured worker, as long as the position is available and the employee is able to perform the job. A position is considered available even if your employer hired a temporary employee to fill your position while you were out on workers’ comp leave. If you have some limitations, but you could do the job with a reasonable accommodation, your employer must provide one.
If the position had been eliminated, the employer must return the employee to another suitable job that is available and that the employee can perform. The employer must provide a reasonable accommodation, if it would help the employee do the job.
Reinstatement rights last for 18 months from the date of the injury. If you’re still not able to work at that point, your employer is not required to take you back. In cases where the injury date is unclear—for example in the case of an occupational disease—the 18 months is measured from the first date of medical treatment. Reinstatement rights are cut off early if:
In some cases, an injured worker will also qualify for job protection under other federal and New Hampshire employment laws.
Disability laws. The federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the New Hampshire Law Against Discrimination require most employers to provide reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities. If your work injury is serious enough to qualify as a disability, your employer will need to work with you to try to keep you employed. This might include giving you additional time off, changing your work duties, or providing necessary equipment, for example. (See our overview article on the ADA to learn more.)
Family and medical leave laws. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for a serious health condition. If you have a relatively serious work injury, but it only keeps you out for a few months or less, you might be entitled to return to your normal job. (See our article on taking FMLA leave to learn more.)