Worker’s Compensation- What are you entitled to as a worker in the United States?

Did you know? That when deciding a job offer, 88% of employees said that the quality and options for benefits were vital in their decision making.

Benefits are important on both spectrums of the employee-employer relationship, and it contributes to the overall performance of a company. When employees feel valued and are satisfied with their jobs, these positive feelings cascade into increased productivity.

Heading the list of employee benefits is medical insurance. However, in today’s job ecosystem, applicants also want to see retirement plans, disability insurance, and more.

According to the law, employers need to provide employees with these benefits:

  • Time off to vote, serve on a jury and perform military service
  • Ensure all worker’s compensation requirements are met
  • Pay employer’s portion of FICA taxes
  • Providing employees with retirement and disability benefits
  • Withhold FICA taxes from employee’s paychecks
  • Make payments for state and federal unemployment taxes
  • Contribute towards short-term disability programs
  • Comply with the Federal Family and Medical Leave (FMLA).

Here are the benefits that employers are not required to provide:

  • Dental or vision plans
  • Retirement plans
  • Health plans (except in Hawaii)
  • Life insurance plans
  • Paid vacations, holidays or sick leave

That said, good benefits packages are one way of staying competitive in the industry and retain great employees.

Most employers provide paid holidays for:

  • New Year’s
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

For instance, most employers provide two weeks of paid vacation per year, and some employers even provide funeral leave (usually two to four days) for the death of immediate family members.

For the birth or adoption of a baby, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to give up to 12 weeks off, which can be taken all at one or a day at a time.

Workers’ Compensation

Talking about your entitlements as an employee, it is also fruitful to know your compensation rights as a worker. In the western world, Germany was one of the first countries to establish legal documents for employer liability. It was not until the 20th century did the US finally enact worker’s compensation laws. Many of the laws in the US have been heavily influenced by the laws in Europe. Here is a brief rundown of compensation that workers are entitled to:

  • Injury and Illness coverage

Any occupational injury that happens to you is covered under worker’s compensation insurance. However, when it comes to an occupational illness, it differs from state to state. As long as you have proof that your illness is caused as a result of your work or workplace, you can secure benefits for illness coverage.

  • Fault and the extent of coverage

Coverage is provided regardless of fault, and a majority of these claims compensate employees for economic loss, such as living costs and medical expenses. It does not cover non-economic loss such as grief, pain or suffering.

  • Insurance

Insurance in the US is provided in two ways, i) through the employer or ii) through a private insurance provider. Both the state and federal governments dictate terms for worker’s compensation, but the actual purchase of the insurance policy is left to the employer to decide.

In Practice

Did you know that according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011, the US was ranked below countries such as Belgium, Austria, and Spain?

Federal and state laws vary widely in the US, causing inconsistencies and injustices. As each state has a different set of laws, it is vital as an employee to know your rights. Professionals are the right people to speak to understand legal issues and worker’s rights in the US.

For instance, speaking to someone from would be helpful if you are ever in need of assistance regarding injury or illness related to your work or workplace. Alternatively, you can also contact your state’s labor department to check what leaves, benefits, and compensations you are entitled to as different states have different requirements.

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