Your doctor has restricted you to limited work hours, or has given you specific work restrictions which indicate how much lifting, walking, or other actions you may take on the job. In many cases an employer will offer you “light duty” work while you continue to recover.
In most cases you have no choice but to accept a light duty post. Yet that does not mean you do not have rights when you go on light duty. Here’s what you need to know.
#1) You may be entitled to vocational training.
If an employer tries to assign you to a light duty role that you are not qualified for you may have to take it, but your employer may also be obligated to train you for it so that you can do the job.
The employer can not put you into a job you have no idea how to do and then fire you for being unable to do the work.
#2) Your employer may not assign you part-time work for less pay than your temporary disability rate.
Some employers have used light duty as an excuse to drastically cut an employee’s pay. They turn the light duty position into a part time role for a lower rate than the employee used to receive.
New Jersey courts have ruled that your employer may not pay you less than the temporary disability rate for this work.
#3) If your employer does not accommodate you then you can receive temporary disability benefits.
First and foremost, you should pay close attention to the specific restrictions you receive. This will ensure you know exactly what your employer’s obligations to you are. You may have to remind your employer of the restrictions, and that asking you to violate them is against the law.
If the employer tries to force you to break your restrictions or simply does not have a position for you in the first place, then you can receive temporary disability benefits until the employer either can accommodate you or until you can be discharged to full duty.
Don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer to help encourage your employer to do the right thing.
#4) If you have permanent restrictions, your employer does not have to give you a position.
Employers have no obligation to just make up a position for an injured employee who will never be able to return to their own role.
However, this does not mean that you cannot ask for reasonable accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
You should always consult with an attorney before returning to work, even on light duty. At the very least, you should have your attorney review the job description of the new light duty job to ensure that it meets all of your doctor’s requirements.
You should also have an attorney on your side in the event that your employer violates your rights.
To get help, contact Talone Law today.