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All About Vacation Accrual While on Workers’ Compensation in California

Do you accrue vacation while on workers’ compensation in California? This is a common question that many workers and employers grapple with. The short answer is that it often depends on your employer’s specific policies and the terms of your employment. Let’s break down the essentials right away:

  • California law does not explicitly require employers to provide paid leave or vacation.
  • Accrued vacation time is considered earned wages.
  • Individual company policies largely determine whether you accrue vacation while on workers’ compensation.

Hello, I’m Chris Lyle, an experienced attorney specializing in workers’ compensation and intellectual property law. I’ve spent many years helping workers understand their rights and navigate the California labor laws around vacation accrual while on workers’ compensation.

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Understanding Workers’ Compensation in California

Workers’ compensation in California is designed to protect employees who get injured or become ill due to their job. It provides financial and medical benefits to help them recover and return to work. Here are the key elements:

Temporary Disability

Temporary Disability (TD) benefits are for workers who are temporarily unable to work due to their injury. These benefits cover two-thirds of your average weekly wages, up to a state-mandated maximum.

For example, if you’re a construction worker earning $900 per week, your TD benefits would be around $600 per week. This helps cover your living expenses while you can’t work. However, TD benefits are not indefinite. They are usually capped at 104 weeks, which can extend to 208 weeks for severe injuries.

Permanent Disability

Permanent Disability (PD) benefits are for workers whose injuries result in lasting impairments. The amount you receive depends on the extent of your disability, your age, occupation, and how much your disability affects your ability to work.

For instance, if you sustain a knee injury that permanently limits your mobility, you might receive PD benefits. These benefits are calculated based on a percentage of disability, with higher percentages leading to higher compensation.

Insurance Providers

Insurance providers play a significant role in workers’ compensation cases. They are responsible for evaluating claims, disbursing benefits, and ensuring compliance with the law. However, they are also vigilant about preventing fraud.

Fraud Prevention

Insurance fraud is a serious concern. Some workers might exaggerate their injuries to get benefits they don’t deserve. To combat this, insurance companies often hire private investigators to monitor claimants.

Private Investigators (PIs) may follow you, check your social media, and even contact people around you to confirm the legitimacy of your injury. For example, if you’re claiming a severe back injury but post pictures of yourself hiking, that could raise red flags.

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To avoid issues, always be honest about your condition and follow your doctor’s orders. This keeps your claim valid and helps you get the benefits you need without complications.

In summary, understanding workers’ compensation in California involves knowing the types of benefits available, the role of insurance providers, and the importance of fraud prevention. This foundation will help you navigate the system more effectively.

Next, we’ll dive into whether you can go on vacation while on workers’ compensation.

Can You Go on Vacation While on Workers’ Compensation?

Potential Risks of Taking a Vacation

Yes, you can go on vacation while on workers’ compensation, but there are risks to be aware of.

Insurance Fraud
Insurance providers are vigilant about fraud. They often hire private investigators to monitor claimants. If an investigator sees you doing something that contradicts your injury claim, it can lead to serious consequences.

Insurance Denial and Claim Reduction
Even if you’re not committing fraud, your vacation could still hurt your claim. Insurers may use photos or reports of you engaging in activities that seem strenuous to argue that you’re less injured than you claim. This can lead to reduced benefits or even denial of your claim.

Strenuous Activities and Social Media Monitoring
Be cautious about engaging in physical activities. Avoid anything that could be seen as too strenuous. Also, be mindful of what you post on social media. Insurers may monitor your accounts to gather evidence against you.

How to Safely Take a Vacation

If you decide to go on vacation, follow these steps to minimize risks:

Doctor’s Clearance
First, get your doctor’s approval. A written clearance can protect you if questions arise about your ability to travel.

Avoid Strenuous Activities
Stick to activities that align with your injury and doctor’s orders. For example, if you have a back injury, avoid lifting heavy items or engaging in high-impact sports.

Follow Medical Advice
Continue any prescribed treatments or therapies while on vacation. This shows you’re serious about your recovery.

Keep a Low Profile
Limit your social media presence. Avoid posting photos or updates that could be misinterpreted by your insurance provider.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a vacation without jeopardizing your workers’ compensation benefits.

Next, we will explore whether you accrue vacation while on workers’ compensation in California.

Do You Accrue Vacation While on Workers’ Compensation in California?

Accrual of PTO During Workers’ Compensation

When you’re on workers’ compensation in California, whether you accrue vacation depends on your employer’s policies. California labor laws treat vacation time as earned wages, which means once you earn it, it’s yours.

However, California law does not require employers to provide paid vacation. If your employer does offer paid vacation, they must follow their own accrual policies. This means you may or may not accrue vacation while on workers’ comp, depending on how your employer’s policy is worded.

  • Employer Policies: Some companies have policies that state vacation accrual stops when an employee is not actively working. For example, if a company’s policy states that only employees working 30+ hours per week accrue vacation, an employee on workers’ compensation may not meet this requirement.

  • Earned Wages: If you have already accrued vacation time before your injury, that time is considered earned wages. Therefore, it should remain available to you.

For a clear understanding, check your company’s vacation accrual policy or speak with your HR department.

Using Accrued Vacation Time

If you have accrued vacation time, you are generally allowed to use it according to your employer’s policies, even while on workers’ compensation. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Employer Policies: Your employer may have specific rules about how and when you can use accrued vacation time. For instance, some companies require advance notice or approval before you can take vacation.

  • Advance Notice: Usually, you need to give your employer advance notice if you plan to use your accrued vacation time. This is especially important if you’re on workers’ comp, as your employer will need to coordinate this with your workers’ compensation benefits.

  • Vacation Usage: You can use your accrued vacation time for any purpose, including extending your recovery period, taking a break, or handling personal matters. However, always ensure that using this time does not conflict with your workers’ compensation benefits or medical advice.

In summary, whether you accrue vacation while on workers’ compensation in California depends on your employer’s specific policies. Always review your company’s vacation accrual policies and consult with HR to understand your rights and obligations.

Next, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about vacation and workers’ compensation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Vacation and Workers’ Compensation

Can You Use PTO While on Workers’ Compensation?

Yes, you can use Paid Time Off (PTO) while on workers’ compensation. However, it’s essential to understand your employer’s specific PTO policies. According to the Department of Industrial Relations, a PTO plan cannot circumvent the law regarding vacations. Employers may require you to use PTO for doctor’s appointments or other recovery-related activities, especially if there are delays in your workers’ compensation benefits.

Do You Have to Use FMLA While on Workers’ Compensation?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for qualifying reasons, including serious health conditions. Employers can require FMLA leave to run concurrently with workers’ compensation leave. This means you could be using your FMLA benefits while receiving workers’ compensation, ensuring job protection during your recovery. Employers must inform employees if their leave will be designated as FMLA leave. For more details, visit HR Dive.

How Long Can You Be on Workers’ Compensation in California?

In California, the duration of workers’ compensation benefits varies. Temporary Disability (TD) benefits last up to 104 weeks within five years from the date of injury. For severe injuries, this can extend to 208 weeks. Permanent Disability (PD) benefits have no set time limit and depend on the severity of the disability. That if you exhaust your TD benefits but are still recovering, you might need to use your accrued PTO or apply for State Disability Insurance (SDI). For more details on these timelines, check the Pacific Workers’ overview.

Next, we’ll delve into the intricacies of using PTO and FMLA while on workers’ compensation.


Navigating the complexities of workers’ compensation, especially regarding vacation accrual and PTO in California, can be challenging. Our goal is to make this process smoother for you.

CompFox is here to assist with advanced legal research tools powered by AI technology. Our platform helps workers’ compensation attorneys find the information they need quickly and accurately. This not only saves time but also ensures you get the most relevant and precise data for your case.

By leveraging CompFox, attorneys can focus more on advocating for their clients rather than getting bogged down in time-consuming research. Our AI system scans through vast amounts of data to deliver the most pertinent cases, statutes, and legal precedents, putting you ahead in your legal battles.

If you’re dealing with issues around workers’ compensation and need expert legal advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to a specialized attorney. They can help you understand your rights and ensure you receive all the benefits you’re entitled to.

For more detailed research on California workers’ compensation and to see how our tools can assist you, visit our service page.

Understanding your rights and having the right tools at your disposal can make all the difference in your workers’ compensation journey.


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