Get a Fair Deal When You Return to Work
You’re off work because you were hurt at work. You qualified for Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Now your boss says you can come back to a “light duty” job.
You’re still not feeling great, still dealing with symptoms related to your injury or work-related illness.
Do you have to accept the light duty and return to work?
While light-duty work can ease you back into working, it’s also a way for your employer and its insurance company to save money on paying you Workers’ Comp benefits.
So before you accept a light-duty arrangement, check with an experienced Workers’ Comp lawyer.
Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer brings Kentucky Courage™ to your case.
What You Should Look Out for with Light Duty Work
If a worker is able to return to light duty while continuing treatment for a work-related injury, the employer may provide light-duty work.
If your doctor approves the plan for your light-duty assignment, you generally must accept it and return to work.
But be careful about these issues:
- Your doctor’s assessment –– especially if it’s a doctor selected by the Workers’ Comp insurance company and not you –– authorizing you for more strenuous work than you can handle.
- Your employer pressuring you to do more than your doctor allowed.
- Your employer using your performance while on light duty as an excuse to terminate you from your job.
1. If Your Doctor’s Not Helpful…
If your doctor clears you for light-duty work as outlined by your employer, you’ll likely be required to accept it.
Even if you’re not confident you can handle the tasks in the plan, you’re generally better off reporting for work and giving it your best effort.
If the job is too much, you should go back to your doctor with specific examples of how the work is causing you problems and ask him or her to reconsider.
You should also seek a second opinion.
Your lawyer can help you get permission to change doctors and get a review of your condition and the type of work you’re able to do.
2. If Your Employer Pushes Too Much…
Even employers with good intentions may disagree over what’s a reasonable type of work for an injured employee. Remember: the light-duty position may have an impact on the company’s bot-tom line.
Before you accept any light-duty assignment, your employer needs to provide a job description outlining the duties you’re expected to handle so your doctor can match the list with your current abilities.
If you’re not be able to lift heavy loads, not able to sit for long periods or have other physical or mental limitations, your light-duty position could be difficult or even impossible.
If your doctor agrees the job requirements are more than you can handle, you may not be required to accept the light-duty position.
3. If Your Employer Penalizes You…
Unfortunately, some employers can be hostile to employees with Workers’ Comp claims.
The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that employers must provide meaningful work while you’re on light duty. They can’t have you sitting in a break room reading the newspaper all day or doing unnecessary busywork.
While you’re working light duty, you may be entitled both to your paycheck for working and to temporary Workers’ Comp income benefits equaling two-thirds of your wages.
Sometimes employers don’t cooperate with filing your claim in the first place. They may refuse to make reasonable accommodations to get you back to work. They may even want to get rid of you.
Too often, Workers’ Comp insurance companies don’t put your needs first, either.
Kentucky Workers’ Compensation law says, “No employee shall be harassed, coerced, discharged or discriminated against in any manner for filing and pursuing a lawful claim….”
If your employer acts unfairly or unreasonably, you may have a claim against them for retaliation.
For that, you’ll need a strong, experienced lawyer.
If you’re having problems related to a light-duty work assignment, or any other Workers’ Comp issue, we’ve got offices in Lexington, Somerset, Manchester, London, Hazard and Paducah ready to help you.