The laws of worker’s compensation state that an employer does not have to hold a position for an employee that is out due to a work related injury. However, most employers are willing to wait, within reason, for an injured employee to return to the job. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a twelve-month period to an employee that can’t work because of a serious medical condition. So, if you are concerned about your employer not holding your position, talk with your workers comp attorney and see if your circumstances qualify you to be protected under FMLA.
With all of that said, if you were injured at work, recover and are able to go back, here are 5 things you need to know about returning to work after being out on worker’s compensation.
- Remember returning to work is a good thing – Even if you’re not feeling 100% if the Doctor gives you medical clearance, getting back to work after being out on workers comp is a good thing. Returning to work will help you get back on track to earning what you were prior to your work accident. If you are not ready to return to your full duties, be sure to talk with your medical provider and your employer about this prior to your return.
- You need to let several parties know about your return – As soon as you know you are going to be able to return to work after being out on workers compensation, you should set a return date with your employer. From there, you should talk with your attorney who can notify the insurance carrier of your return to work. If you are returning to a light duty position that pays less money than you were earning before your injury, your worker's comp attorney may be able to negotiate a continuing payment without a hearing. It is also important to notify the insurance carrier so that they do not over pay your benefits which you may have to pay back.
- You may still be eligible for benefits – Once you return to work after being out on worker’s compensation, you may still be eligible to receive benefits in the event you are forced to miss additional work time as a result of your injury. This is referred to as “Intermittent Lost Time” and you should consult with your workers comp attorney about whether or not you’d be eligible to receive it.
- Know your options – Despite medical clearance, if you return to work and find you cannot do your job, you may be able to reopen your worker’s compensation case. If your employer can no longer keep you on staff because you are unable to perform your job duties, the Worker’s Compensation Board has job placement services that may be available to help you. There are many other scenarios that could come up when returning to work after being out on worker’s comp. It is important to know your options and understand what is available to you if a work injury prevents you from doing your job as you did before the accident.
- It is important to continue medical care – While you may have been cleared to return to work, you should keep in mind that it is important to continue receiving the medical care you need to remain healthy. Many times injured employees return to work and fail to continue taking care of their injuries. This often results in the employee being re-injured. In some cases, a re-injury can be worse than the initial one and result in prolonged time off of work or even worse, a permanent disability. So keep in mind that continuing to care for yourself is an important part of returning to work.
If you have questions about your rights when returning to work, you are told you have a partial disability or you have some limitations on the work you can perform due to your injury, contact us to discuss what benefits you may still be eligible for.