Q. We have an employee who has been unable to report for duty since pay period 10 (May 15, 2012) due to an auto accident, which occurred May 15, 2012. On March 6, the employee advised that her claim had been accepted by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program. Effective May 15, it will be one year since her injury. Can you advise the next steps once the employee has reached a full year? Is the employee still covered? If the employee is still unable to return to work after May 15, are there preclusions under OWCP from proceeding with removal based on medical inability?
A. If she recovers from her disability within one year from the date she first became entitled to FECA payments, she has the right to return to her former job or an equivalent position. If the period of disability extends beyond one year, she has priority placement rights to her former position or an equivalent one, provided that she applies for restoration within 10 days of the date her compensation ends. Priority consideration means that your agency will enter her on your re-employment priority list.