If you sustained a work-related injury that resulted in your temporary or total disability, you undoubtedly received workers’ compensation benefits during your period of healing. Then your doctor released you to go back to work, but only for light duty, not your original job. Now you are wondering what rights you have while working at this modified job.
The most important thing you need to know is that if your employer lays you off through no fault of your own while you are working a light-duty job, your rights include entitlement to a reinstatement of your total disability benefits. In other words, if you lose your light-duty job because of the current pandemic or the economic downturn it has caused, you must begin receiving benefits again.
You have the right to a valid light-duty job once your doctor releases you to go back to work. This job must take your injury into consideration and allow you to perform the work with the restrictions imposed by your doctor. Most employers offer light-duty jobs such as the following:
- Driving a forklift
- Sorting and delivering mail
- Answering phones
- Ordering supplies
- Training new employees
- Filing and/or shredding documents
Your employer must also reasonably accommodate you so you can adequately perform your light-duty job. Depending on the type of injury you sustained and the restrictions you are now under, accommodation may include such things as the following:
- Work from home
- Alternate means of getting to and from work, such as carpooling with other employees, reimbursement of your taxi expenses, etc.
- Appropriate training for your new light-duty job
- Orientation to your new light-duty job
- Removal of any hazards that could make it dangerous or impossible for you to do the job
You always have the right to full communication between you and your employer with regard to your return-to-work plan, the job duties and responsibilities, how you can perform them in the safest way, and any problems that you encounter once you begin working it.