For injured employees, the ultimate goal of workers’ compensation is to help make life easier for them, allowing them the time to recover from their injuries before returning to work. However, in cases when an employee’s doctor places light duty restrictions on his or her return to work or an employer offers a worker the chance to return and perform light duty work while he or she is still recovering, some questions might arise.
We have compiled a list of some of the most commonly asked questions regarding light duty work and some answers to shed some clarity on what it could mean for you:
- Do employers have to offer light duty work? Generally, an employer does not have to provide light duty work as an option to employees seeking to return to work after sustaining an injury on the job. That said, if an employer does offer an employee light duty work, turning down an offer could possibly make you ineligible for supplemental job displacement benefits, unless your physician did not authorize it. If you reject an offer of light duty work that lasts at least 12 months, meets your medical restrictions, pays at least 85% of what you previously made, and is within reasonable commuting distance, it is possible that you will not get payments to cover the schooling or training that might be necessary for you to get a new job.
- Does the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) impact offers of light duty work? The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives an employee the right to refuse offers of reemployment without the loss of family leave rights, but as mentioned above, the refusal of light duty work can still put an individual’s right to receive workers’ compensation benefits at risk if they have been medically cleared for it.
- Do workers who return to their jobs under light duty work restrictions get paid less than those without restrictions? Salaried workers, unlike those who are paid based on the number of hours they work on a daily basis, might be entitled to receive their usual salary even while working under light duty work restrictions. Workers who earn hourly wages, however, will be paid based on the number of hours they work while on light duty.
- Do employers have to reinstate a worker on light duty work restrictions to his or her original position once the doctor removes the restrictions? Employers are not allowed to take an adverse action against an employee for using the workers’ compensation benefits to which he or she is entitled to. As such, they cannot deny a worker the right to resume his or her job once sufficiently recovered, even if he or she accepted reemployment with light duty restrictions. If your injury develops into a permanent disability, you also have the right to be reinstated to a modified job or an alternative job as long as you are able to perform the essential functions with or without reasonable accommodations.
No matter what your circumstances are, your case can greatly benefit from having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side to ensure your rights are protected. Workers’ compensation can be a complex area of law, but an attorney can help you navigate these complexities and keep you from missing out on any crucial benefits that could make your life easier during this difficult time.
Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Sacramento Fighting for Injured Workers
If you were injured at work or developed a repetitive stress injury over time, you have a right to workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, many employers and insurance companies push back to keep workers from obtaining these vital benefits. At Smolich & Smolich, our Sacramento workers’ compensation attorneys will fight for you and guide you throughout the process. No matter what stage in the claims-filing process you are in, our team will effectively get you through it to obtain the favorable resolution you need to assist you with your recovery.
We believe our clients should focus on getting better, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. If we do not win your case, you will not owe us any legal fees for our services.
Contact our office today at (916) 571-0400 to schedule your free case evaluation with a knowledgeable member of our legal team.