If you have already recovered from a work-related injury, your employer will naturally want you onboard again. But if you are not yet fully recovered, your doctor may issue a light-duty work restriction.
In essence, a return-to-work restriction is a guide for employers on what an injured worker can and can’t do. A light-duty work restriction means that they can only do tasks that aren’t physically demanding. This will vary depending on the injury and the level of recovery of the injured employee.
While this may seem prejudicial to the injured worker, it’s actually beneficial for them. Studies suggest that returning to work speeds up the recovery process. Social interaction in the workplace also helps dispel feelings of anxiety and depression.
On the part of the employer, returning to work as soon as possible helps keep workers’ comp premiums low. But it’s no secret that work restrictions are often abused or altogether ignored by some employers. It’s not uncommon for employers to push their injured workers way beyond their restrictions.
This is why you need an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer like Victor Malca. He has successfully defended thousands of injured workers from blatant abuses by their employers. He can help you negotiate with your employer too and get justice for your injuries. Call us now for a free consultation.
How Work Restrictions Work
Work restrictions can be either temporary or permanent. But all of it will be enumerated in the work restriction letter that the doctor will give to your employer. Upon receipt of this letter, your employer should contact you to talk about return-to-work arrangements.
Your employer can choose to either let you return to work with restrictions or wait until you are fully healed. If they choose the former, they should provide you with “reasonable accommodation”. This includes changing your work hours, assigning you to a different job, or anything that can help you be as productive as your coworkers. Provided that doing so wouldn’t cause undue hardship on the business.
If your employer ignores your work restrictions, they will be legally liable should your injuries get worse.
“Light Duty” Defined
As its name suggests, light-duty refers to temporary or permanent work that is mentally or physically less demanding than normal jobs.
For example, a warehouse stock clerk hurt his back while moving heavy crates. He is eventually allowed to return to work months later but with a light-duty work restriction. This means he can’t go back to lifting and moving stocks like he used to do. Doing so may aggravate his injuries.
So if he returns to work, his employer may still assign him at the warehouse. But he will be limited to a desk job as that wouldn’t require physical exertion. Or he will be assigned to a different department but in a job that won’t involve heavy lifting or anything remotely similar.
Examples of Light Duty
As mentioned, work restrictions may differ on a case-to-case basis. So what counts as “light duty” may also differ for each person. Some people can still do slight physical labor but others may not be able to make use of certain body parts anymore. But in general, light-duty tasks include:
- office tasks
- working on a desk job
- monitoring surveillance cameras
- supervising job sites
- clerical tasks
- recording inventories
- equipment maintenance
- making sales calls
- conducting safety audits
- mentor and train new employees
- develop a safety training program
How Light Duty Work Restrictions Can Affect Your Benefits
What you really should know about light-duty work restrictions is that it can affect your workers’ comp benefits.
You see, workers comp benefits are given in the presumption that your injury prevents you from earning an income. So if you return to work, that means you are already capable of providing for yourself.
If your light-duty job allows you to earn an income that is equal to or more than what you were earning before the injury, your benefits will stop. But if your current income doesn’t exceed your previous income, you’ll continue to receive lost wages payments in the form of partial disability benefits.
When to Call a Lawyer
As mentioned, if your employer ignores your work restrictions, they are liable should your injuries get worse. But historically, that didn’t deter most employers from pushing injured workers beyond their restrictions.
So if you feel like the job your employer has assigned you to violates your restrictions, don’t hesitate to consult a workers compensation lawyer. They can help you negotiate with your employer and if that doesn’t work, defend you at court.
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.
Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.