Let’s talk work-related injuries and illnesses for a moment as an intro to today’s blog.
And let us focus specifically upon the prolonged and unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and its ravaging effects on broad-based work realities.
The blowback from the virus has been monumental, of course, with adverse outcomes visiting many millions of individuals and families in widely varied contexts. Jobs have been lost. Vital social connections have been severed.
And material health challenges have unquestionably emerged for legions of workers spanning the country. Today we spotlight some of the hurdles facing federal workers currently seeking job-linked benefits after becoming injured or ill in the course of employment. Those employees are always sizable in number, and even more pronounced these days owing to the pandemic.
FECA: What is it, and what is its purpose?
Most American workers in the private sector who suffer on-the-job health downsides have a protective safeguard provided by a state-governed workers’ compensation program.
That is similarly true for federal employees, with the acronym FECA looming large in instances of work-related injury and illness.
A federal website addressing FECA underscores its thrust and significance. It notes that, “The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act provides coverage to federal civilian employees who have sustained work-related injuries or diseases.” The FECA “provides appropriate monetary and medical benefits and help in returning to work.”
How responsive is the process, and how well does it work?
Arguably, FECA administration and processing has historically worked just fine – that is, fairly and as intended – in most cases. However, there is ample evidence these days that many workers seeking benefits are experiencing material challenges and often unfair outcomes when applying for benefits.
Instances of FECA due-process rights being undermined
Federal workers’ compensation falls under the oversight of the U.S. Department of Labor. The scheme is directly administered by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program, with process details being set forth in the FECA. The act mandates purposeful interaction between the DOL and an injured/ill worker’s employing agency that ensures a fair case outcome and the receipt of benefits when warranted.
Reportedly, that is currently not happening in an increasing number of instances, especially in the COVID era. A growing number of cases are being cited that feature stark processing challenges for many claimants and due-process hurdles that undermine just outcomes and raise the need for appeal.
Negative outcomes must be purposefully addressed without delay. An adversely affected worker can rely upon a knowledgeable federal employment law legal team for proven acumen and diligent representation in a work-related injury claim.