YOUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Are you contemplating going back to work after suffering a work-related injury? If your doctor has given you a clean bill of health, it is important that you first understand the workers’ compensation return to work policy.
This policy is meant to protect your rights if you’re injured on the job and want to resume duty.
Read along to find out everything you need to know about the policy.
- When to Return to Work
You can return to work as soon as your doctor allows it. Sometimes the doctor may issue a go-ahead while you are still not ready. It is important to inform them and your workers’ compensation lawyer of this so that the proper measures can be taken.
Failing to return to work after the doctor clears you may cost you your rights to workers’ compensation benefits. Find out more about what to expect from your workers’ compensation lawyer here.
Your doctor may suggest workers’ compensation return to work restrictions that you can follow while at work. This may be lighter duties than the ones you did before the injury. Other jobs may include sitting down depending on the injury you suffered.
Ensure you get a written note stating these restrictions. If your employer does not adhere to these restrictions, inform your workers’ compensation lawyer.
- What Happens When You Return to Work
When you return to work, inform the Workers’ Compensation Board and the insurance carrier. You should also inform them if there are any changes to your status. Some benefits of going back to work may go back to your full payment.
Workers’ compensation payments are not equal to your regular pay, and you may also not get some benefits like medical covers.
Returning to an active life and a social life may also be what you need for a speedy recovery. You may be surpassed for promotions if you’re not on active duty.
If the new duties allocated to you because of a work-related injury earn you a lower paycheck than you previously had, you can still make up for it through your benefits.
Reduced earnings benefit is what you will get to make up for that deficit.
- Your Job May Not Be Guaranteed
Your employer is not obligated to keep your job open for you. However, some employers take back their injured employees. It is therefore important to keep in touch with your employer and inform them of your progress.
An employee can get up to 12 weeks in a year of unpaid leave if they are immobilized by a health condition.
Contact the Department of Labor for more information.
- Unemployment Insurance
You can collect your unemployment insurance if you are physically fit to resume work, but your previous employer has already filled your position, rendering you jobless. Contact your state’s Department of Labor for more information on this.
Remember that your employer cannot fire you for claiming your Workers’ Compensation payment. If you think that may be the reason for your dismissal, you could file a discrimination claim against your former employer.
Other employers are not permitted to ask you if you have a pending claim or if you have ever filed for a workers’ compensation claim.
- Partial Disability or Total Disability
If you have been told you have a partial disability in your workers’ compensation claim, it means that you can still get some work done. You can either do lighter duties than what you did previously, you could work for lesser hours or have to sit down working.
This will depend on your injury and your recovery progress and your company’s return to work after injury policy. If the work given to you by your employer pays less than what the previous one did, you can get reduced earning benefits.
If you do not return to work, you are at risk of losing your benefits. Total disability means that you cannot work at all and therefore cannot earn any wages because of the injury.
You can still file for a workers’ compensation benefits case before two years are up.
If your work injury leaves you unable to do the work you previously did, the Workers’ Compensation Board can help you look for work and vocational training.
Visit your local Workers’ Compensation Board office to get connected to a rehabilitation counselor to get more information on this. Your benefits or case will not be affected if you are going through rehabilitation.
You are eligible to get paid for medical and travel costs for injuries caused at work even after you return to work. You also still get workers’ compensation benefits for days missed from work because of the injury after you return to work.
Other Details to Note When Dealing with Workers’ Compensation Return to Work Policy
Your employer may have an existing workers’ compensation return to work policy or they may just be winging it. Whichever the case may be, it is important for both of you to work together.
There are three job criteria that can be used when placing an injured employee in a workstation. They may be placed in the department they previously worked in, in another department within the same company or in other agencies within the community. Job restrictions will also be modified according to your progress.
An employee caught in workers’ compensation fraud loses their benefits and may end up in jail. A fraud is established when an employee exaggerates their injury to get benefits or report back to work while still earning their workers’ compensation benefits.
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