New Jersey law requires employees who have been injured on-the-job to return to “light duty work” if it is offered by your employer and if your doctor releases you to perform the work. Often, this means that your employer will have to provide you with a reasonable accommodation for your disability, for example a lifting restriction.
Workers’ compensation insurance carriers often pressure employers to offer light duty work to employees who have been injured on-the-job. This is because carriers pay out less in wage and medical benefits to employees who return to work shortly after suffering a work-related injury.
If you are suffering from a work-related injury, it is imperative that you get the treatment you need to attain maximum recovery. If you feel that your light duty assignment is interfering with your recovery, the experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Shebell & Shebell will fight for you.
If you have been released for light duty work, knowing your rights can help you avoid potential problems. Common questions about light duty work include:
- What happens if I turn down light duty work?
If your injury requires you to be out of work for a certain period of time and you are under the care of a physician, you are entitled to receive temporary disability benefits. If you turn down light duty work, your employer can terminate your temporary disability benefits. You may also be fired if your physician has cleared you to return to work but you refuse.
- What if I am fired while on light duty work?
An employer cannot terminate you because you suffered a work-related injury. However, in January of 2016 the Appellate Division ruled that an employee who was fired while on light duty work was not entitled to temporary disability benefits because the firing was not related to his injury. The reason why you are fired is critical to determining whether you are entitled to continued benefit payments.
- What if the workers’ compensation doctor has released me for light duty work, but my employer doesn’t have any appropriate work?
If your employer does not have any appropriate work for you, you should continue receiving temporary disability benefits until you reach maximum medical improvement.
What To Do If You Are Cleared For Light Duty Work
When speaking with your physician about returning to work, make sure that they are as specific as possible about your restrictions. A note that says “light duty” will not tell your employer anything useful. Your doctor should include things in your paperwork such as:
- How long you can sit or stand per day
- Specific weight lifting restrictions, for example “no more than five pounds”
- Whether you should avoid use of either of your hands or arms
- Whether you should avoid bending, reaching or climbing
If you have been cleared for light duty, and are facing any issues, including being paid less for light duty work than your temporary disability benefit award, or so-called “light duty” work is too strenuous and is interfering with your recovery, the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Shebell & Shebell can advise you how to proceed. We represent clients throughout New Jersey, including Monmouth County, Middlesex County, and Ocean County, including Howell, Freehold, Middletown, Shrewsbury, Wall, Union Beach and Neptune. For a free consultation, call us at 732-532-2011 or contact us online today.