Now that businesses are beginning to reopen in southwestern Pennsylvania, workers are returning to their pre-pandemic jobs. Injured workers who spent the last few months recovering from their injuries may receive offers to return to their jobs with restrictions or light-duty responsibilities.
When light-duty or restrictions are involved, an employer attempts to provide a position that accomplishes two objectives:
If your employer calls you with an offer to return to work with restrictions, review your rights and your doctor’s advice so that you don’t aggravate your injury.
Under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law, an offer to return to work with restrictions is essentially a job offer. If you turn it down and refuse to return, you could potentially risk losing your benefits. Before responding to your employer’s offer, consider what your doctor says. Although the current offer may conflict with your doctor’s guidance, it could be modified to benefit both you and your employer.
Your employer will likely propose restrictions or light-duty work recommended by an independent medical examiner, the doctor contracted by the insurance company to gauge the severity of your injuries. In some cases, your employer may ask for more than you are physically ready to do. For example, your employer may expect you to lift boxes over 50 pounds when your treating physician has not yet cleared you for lifting.
In this situation, you have the option to refuse to return to work, but your employer may respond by filing a petition to terminate or suspend your benefits. This petition will be decided before a judge, so contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before you decide to turn down your employer’s offer.
If your employer’s offer for light-duty work aligns with the restrictions described by your treating physician, you may return to work. If you decide to stay at home under these circumstances, you risk losing benefits and your job.
When you return to work with restrictions in Pennsylvania, you remain eligible for certain benefits. These include:
You may also resume receiving full benefits if your work-related disability continues under the following circumstances:
Continue communicating regularly with your doctor and your workers’ compensation attorney, if you have one. They can help ensure your rights are protected as your body continues to heal while you return to work.
If you are considering a return to work with restrictions while recovering from an injury, contact us. We can help you determine whether light-duty work is in your best interest and what your rights are if you are uncomfortable returning to work under your employer’s proposed restrictions.
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