Do I have to use my vacation time or sick leave when injured and out of work?
No. You do not have to use up your vacation time or sick leave when you get hurt. In fact, if your case is accepted and you do use your vacation time or sick leave, you may still be entitled to temporary total disability benefits for those days. In other words, you can collect temporary total disability on top of your vacation time or sick leave. This is because that time is earned and, unlike workers’ compensation benefits, “vacation . . . [or sick leave] can be taken to renew physical and mental capabilities, for personal reasons, for absences due to adverse weather conditions, and for personal illness or illness in the immediate family.” Estes v. N. Carolina State Univ., 102 N.C. App. 52, 58, 401 S.E.2d 384, 387 (1991) (citing N.C.Admin.Code tit. 25, r. 01E.0201 (1984)). “Workers’ compensation, however, is available only for a work-related injury.” Id. In other words, vacation time and sick leave are separate and distinct from workers’ compensation benefits.