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How workers’ compensation differs for public employees

Public employees perform work for the public good every day, which is why they are also known as public servants. They work tirelessly to improve the lives of their communities. However, if they are injured on the job, they often must navigate different regulations than workers in the private sector for workers’ compensation benefits.

For example, federal laws govern federal public employees, but state and local employees are governed by comparable state and local regulations. These state and local regulations can be separate or in addition to the workers’ compensation regulations that govern private workers.

For federal public servants, the Federal Employee’s Compensation Act controls. FECA allows for benefits when a federal public servant is injured while in the performance of their federal duties. Some of these public servants also may be covered by the Federal Employer’s Liability Act. This provides for compensation when the federal employee is involved in interstate transportation. The most common recipients are railroad workers. Other federal regulations include the Jones Act for seamen, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Death on the High Seas Act, and the Defense Base Act.

For state and local public servants, state and local regulations control. This information can be found on the workers’ compensation posters that are required to be posted in all workplaces. These posters give public servants details on coverages and contact information for questions and claims.

In California, the California Department of Human Resources is the contact for questions and claims. Californian workers’ compensation covers physical injuries, mental injuries, and illnesses that are work-related. These benefits include medical care, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits, and death benefits.

Public servants injured while serving the public must navigate both their recovery and the myriad of federal, state, and possibly, local regulations. Figuring out what to claim and who to file with can be complicated. This is where professionals can help.