A caller to my office was very upset. He had been injured while moving materials at work. He told me that he couldn’t get medical treatment because he was a “probationary employee” and wasn’t going to received medical coverage until he had been on the job for six months. His boss also told him that he wasn’t eligible for workers’ compensation benefits while on probation.
First things first, unless you have a contract that guarantees your employment (usually a union worker), you are always a probationary employee. By that I mean you can be terminated any time for any reason. That’s what the term “at will” employment means.
Because a probation term is just a made up phrase by some employers to try and make you feel you have to justify your existence or to allow them to deny you benefits like health insurance, people do also make the mistake of thinking that there is a waiting period before getting workers’ compensation benefits.
You are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits the moment you are hired. It’s rare, but we’ve helped injured workers who got in to an accident on their first day on the job. They have the same rights as a 40 year employee would. In other words, it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t have health insurance. Since he was injured while working, the workers’ compensation insurance has to pay for 100% of his medical care.
Another caller a while back told me they heard this immediate coverage only applied to workers in Chicago. Not sure where they heard that, but that’s not true either. Whether you are in a small town in southern or central Illinois or Rockford or anywhere else, you have the same rights under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
Big picture, you can see that there are a lot of myths out there about the Illinois work comp system and most of them serve to only hurt employees. So bottom line is that you can’t go off of rumors, especially if the legal advice you are getting isn’t from a lawyer or if it’s the insurance adjuster (who has a competing interest with you) tells you something that doesn’t seem right.
It’s always free to call us (312-346-5578) or fill out our contact form to get help with your case or simply just ask a question. We don’t promise that you’ll like what we have to say, but we’ll always tell it to you straight and look out for your best interests.