Typically, workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina are governed by the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. However, when the plaintiff is a federal employee their claims are governed by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. The Federal Act calls for the United States to compensate federal employees for any injury sustained while in the performance of his or her job if that injury resulted in a disability. Because the Federal Act diverges from standard workers’ compensation law, here, we have provided a time line for your case and how you may be compensated under the Act as a federal employee.
- A Time Line for a Federal Employee’s Workers’ Compensation Claim
First, after having sustained a work-related injury, the employee must give written notice of injury to their immediate superior within 30 days. This notice must include the injured employee’s name and address, the exact time and location where the injury occurred, and the cause and nature of the injury.
Then, within three years after the date of the injury, a completed claim form must be delivered to the Secretary of Labor’s office. This form must be accompanied by a certificate from the physician of the employee stating the nature of the injury and any related disability.
Next, the injured employee must submit to a physical examination by a physician designated or approved by the Secretary of Labor.
Finally, the Secretary of Labor will conduct a hearing in which he will determine whether or not the claim is valid and whether or not compensation will be paid to the injured employee. The Secretary will consider the claim presented by the injured employee, the report of the employee’s immediate superior, and any independent investigation that the Secretary deems necessary.
- How Compensation is Calculated for Injured Federal Employees
If the disability is total, then the employee is eligible to receive two-thirds of his monthly pay for each month in which he is disabled. If the disability is partial, then the employee is eligible to receive two-thirds of the difference between his monthly pay when healthy and his monthly wage-earning capacity while partially disabled.
Usually, an employee’s wage-earning capacity will be determined by his actual earnings if those earning fairly represent his wage-earning capacity. However, if the employee was not handicapped before the injury and his wage-earning capacity probably would have increased if he had not been injured then his probable wage-earning capacity will be the monthly amount from which his disability compensation will be calculated (rather than his actual earnings). Unfortunately, overtime and bonus pay are not included in these calculations.
In addition to the formula set out above, if there is a permanent disability involving disfigurement or the loss of use of a body part then the employee is further entitled to basic compensation for the disability as set out by the compensation schedule in the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act.
Finally, if the injured employee has any dependents, he may be entitled to an additional 8 1/3 percent of his monthly pay (if the disability is total) or 8 1/3 percent of the difference between his monthly pay and his monthly wage-earning capacity (if the disability is partial).
- What is Continuation of Pay?
Continuation of Pay (“COP”) is a unique benefit provided to injured federal employees. COP allows a federal employee to continue to be compensated at the normal rate of his monthly pay during the first 45 days of the injured employee’s time off work. COP acts as a substitute for any other compensation benefits during the period in which it runs.
In order to be eligible for COP, the injured employee must sustain a “Traumatic Injury” and then report the injury to their employing agency within 30 days of the date of injury. Additional medical documentation of the disability is often required as well. However, a United States Postal Service employee is not entitled to either compensation or continuation of pay for the first 3 days of any temporary disability. Instead, a Postal Service employee may use annual leave, sick leave, or leave without pay during that 3-day period.