Returning To Work Too Early After a Work Related Injury
Unfortunately, in many Workers’ Comp cases, employer’s interests are completely different than those of the injured employee. For example, employers want to get their injured employee back to work as soon as possible. If you have been injured on the job, you must wait until you are fully healed and physically ready to handle the demands of your job.
Modified Work/ Light Duty
Some employers may choose to offer modified work or light duty. Modify work or light duty is a job with the same employer with fewer physical demands. It allows an injured worker to keep working while he or she recovers from an injury. There are certain restrictions to be able to have this option.
- Work restriction is given by a doctor - If your Workers’ Compensation doctor, also known as a PTP (primary treating physician) gives you work restrictions, it’s important that both you and your employer respect them. Your doctor might tell you that you can’t lift anything over a certain weight, that you can only work a few hours a day, or that you can’t spend time in certain positions. Your PTP might even tell you that you’re not able to work at all. These restrictions are provided to make sure you recover and avoid further injury. If your doctor says you cannot work, or that you can work only limited hours, you will be compensated with TD (temporary disability) payments to make up for the lost wages.
- The employer’s ability to find work for the injured worker within the restrictions - If you are given work restrictions by your PTP, your employer must honor the restrictions. However, those restrictions might make it impossible for you to do your regular job. If you are only allowed to lift fifteen pounds, and your job requires you to lift fifty pounds on a regular basis, it means you cannot carry out those job duties. Sometimes, your employer will be able to find another job for you to do while you recover. However, that isn’t always the case. If there is no available job that you can do with your work restrictions, that means that you cannot work until your doctor removes or modifies those restrictions.
If there is no modified work or light duty available, an injured worker will receive Temporary Disability Benefits for his or her lost wages.
An injured worker who is offered but refuses a modified work of light duty will not receive temporary disability benefits for the time he or she is not working.
As much as you or your employer may want you to return to work, pushing for a medical release before you are physically able to can, in the end, damage your health and even your workers’ comp claim. If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, it is important that you understand your legal rights.