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Can a Temporary Disability Lead to the Loss of a Civil Service Employee’s Job?

 Posted on November 25, 2022 in Civil Service Employment and Job Defense

Manhattan civil service employee defense lawyer Civil service employees in New York have certain protections that ensure that they will be able to maintain employment. Employees who may be subject to discipline due to allegations of incompetency, violations of the law, or other reasons will need to be aware of the procedures followed in disciplinary hearings. However, employees who have experienced an injury, illness, or other issues that have led to temporary disabilities will also need to be aware of how these issues may affect their employment, and they will need to understand when they may be eligible for medical separation.

What Is Medical Separation?

Medical separation occurs when an employer seeks to terminate a person's employment because they have experienced a temporary disability that prevents them from performing the duties of their position. In these cases, disabilities may fall into one of two categories: "ordinary" disabilities and "occupational " disabilities. If a person experiences a work-related injury or illness, such as an injury that occurred in a workplace accident, any resulting disabilities will be considered occupational disabilities. If a person experiences a disability that arose from non-work-related issues, this is considered to be an ordinary disability.

Employees who experience temporary occupational disabilities will generally be entitled to a leave of absence of one year under Section 71 of the Civil Service Law. However, if a temporary occupational disability was caused by an assault that occurred in the course of a person's employment, under Section 71, the employee will be entitled to a two-year leave of absence. Additionally, because a person who experiences a work-related injury will qualify for workers' compensation benefits, they will usually be able to receive a percentage of their average wages while they are on leave.

A person with an ordinary temporary disability that prevents them from being able to fully perform work-related duties may be required to take a leave of absence under Section 72 of the Civil Service Law, and this leave will usually be unpaid. To determine whether leave is necessary, a person may be required to undergo a medical examination, and a medical officer may then certify that the employee is not physically or mentally fit to perform the duties of their position. After receiving notice of proposed required leave under Section 72, an employee will have 10 days to object, and a hearing must be held within 30 days to review the case and determine whether leave is necessary. If at the time of the hearing, the employee is successful in demonstrating that they are now fully capable of performing their duties, they will not be required to take an unpaid leave of absence under Section 72. However, if at the time of the hearing, it is determined that the employee is not capable of fully performing their duties or that they are not mentally fit to perform their duties, they will be placed on a leave of absence for up to one year under Section 72.  

If a civil service employee has been unable to work continuously for at least one year (365 consecutive days) due to an ordinary disability, or due to being placed on a Section 72 leave of absence for one year (365 consecutive days), their employer may seek to terminate their employment through a medical separation under Section 73 of the Civil Service Law. However, if the employee has not been continuously absent for 365 consecutive days, they cannot be medically separated under Section 73 until there are 365 consecutive days of absence. 

However, after being medically separated under Section 71, Section 72 or Section 73, an employee who has recovered from their temporary disability may seek to be reinstated to their previous position or another vacant position that they are qualified to fill. Workers with temporary occupational disabilities may petition for reinstatement within one year after their recovery from their temporary disability. In these cases, the employer will request a medical examination to determine whether the worker is physically or mentally fit to perform the duties of their former position or a similar position in the same field. The time period for seeking reinstatement after recovery from a temporary disability is not indefinite. Therefore, civil servants who are seeking reinstatement from medical separation, due to a temporary disability, should do so expeditiously after being cleared by their private physician to return to work in a full-duty capacity. 

Contact Our NYC Civil Service Employee Medical Separation Attorney

If you are a civil service employee who has experienced an injury, illness, or other temporary disability that has affected your ability to work, you will need to understand how to protect your rights and avoid issues that could lead to a loss of essential income. At The Law Firm of Gregory J. Watford, Esq., PLLC, our Manhattan civil service employee defense lawyer can make sure you take the correct steps to protect your job while also advising you on the types of medical or workers' compensation benefits you may be able to receive. Contact us at 646-580-6675 to set up a consultation and learn how we can help you.


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