If you suffer an on-the-job injury, a doctor will conduct an evaluation to determine the extent of your injuries and what type of physical restrictions should be put in place while you recover. For example, if you suffered a back injury, your doctor may order that you are not allowed to lift more than 10 pounds or operate heavy machinery until you’ve received specific clearance from their office. In some industries, this may mean that there is no work for the individual, but in other industries, the employee may be eligible for what’s known as light duty work.
Light duty work can mean different things to different companies, but essentially it’s a way to keep you earning a paycheck while remaining in line with your injury restrictions. If a police officer broke their ankle while pursuing a suspect, they may not be able to work their normal beat, but the station may offer them a desk job until enough healing has occurred. This limits how much the insurance company has to pay out for benefits, avoids an extended absence for the company, and allows an employee to keep earning a paycheck. It’s a rare win-win-win situation when used effectively.
As you might imagine, there are rules that both the employee and employer must follow when it comes to light duty work. Below, we take a closer look at the responsibilities for employers and employees when it comes to light duty work.
Employer Light Duty Responsibilities
If you have been given light duty restrictions, it is imperative that your employer follow these restrictions. If you are being told to complete work outside of your doctor’s restrictions, you can refuse to do so without ramifications. It is illegal for your employer to force you to step outside your injury restrictions, and it is illegal for them to punish you for refusing this work.
Most employers are great at staying within your restrictions, but they also have additional responsibilities that are owed to the employee. Minnesota workers’ compensation law states that the employer must:
- Accommodate the employee’s restrictions to the extent possible.
- Find alternative work that is appropriate for the employee.
- Provide retraining or vocational rehabilitation training if you can no longer perform your normal job.
Finally, it’s also worth noting that your employer must allow you to attend your doctor appointments for any treatment that has been deemed medically necessary.
Employee Light Duty Responsibilities
The employer isn’t the only one that has responsibilities if a physician determines that light duty work is in play. Failure to comply with your restrictions can lead to a termination of any workers’ compensation benefits that you are receiving. Light duty work may not pay the same amount as your normal job, so it’s likely that you’ll be considering wage loss benefits if your pay or your hours are affected by your injuries, so it’s important that you follow your individual responsibilities. Here’s what an employee must do in regards to light duty and their work restrictions:
- The employee must stay within their work restrictions.
- The employee must make a good faith effort to perform light duty work.
- The employee must let their employer and their doctor know if they cannot perform the light duty work that has been made available.
If you’re running into troubles with your employer when it comes to light duty work, you need to proceed carefully in order to avoid causing problems for your claim. Connect with a lawyer, go over your options and move forward with confidence. For help with your injury claim, or to talk to a lawyer about a different injury issue, give the team at Hey Workers a call today at (844) 439-9675.