If you are injured at work, sometimes the best option is to rest while you recover. However, sometimes doing some light duty work will keep you moving when the doctors recommend that you remain active. Your employer is required to offer you light duty working options, and if the employer cannot, then he or she must give you the full amount of your weekly benefits.
What is Light Duty Work?
When an employee is injured at work, they generally must take off work to recover, to undergo surgery, or to go through another type of serious treatment.
The employer will pay weekly benefits while you are recovering. When you can return to work, but are still recovering, you may not be able to perform all of the duties that you used to be able to do.
If you cannot, then your employer may offer you light duty work. Lifting, bending, squatting, and other activities may be limited while you are recovering, so a light duty position will not involve any of these things, for example.
This may mean taking an office job for a while instead of working your normal job. A light duty position accommodates for all of your restrictions as imposed by your doctor.
How Does Pay Work While I’m on Light Duty?
While you are on light duty, you will be paid the same as your normal position. However, if your hours are limited (for example, your doctor says that you can work no more than four hours per day), then your workers’ compensation benefits will cover the rest. You will be paid up to the full amount of your weekly benefits in a limited working hours situation.
The cut off is 80 percent. That means that if you are not earning at least 80 percent of what you earned prior to the injury, then you will receive additional compensation through workers’ compensation benefits. However, your benefits can never exceed more than 66 2/3 percent of what you received prior to your injury.
Do I Have to Do Light Duty?
Generally speaking, if you are offered light duty, you must take it. Failing to take it would mean that you “refused to work,” and your workers’ compensation award could be affected. Workers’ compensation awards assume that you are trying to recover from your injury and that you genuinely want to work when you are able to do so. If you are not willing to work, then your benefits may disappear altogether.
There is an exception where your employer is trying to demean you or harass you in his or her assignment of light duty. Your employer must accommodate your restrictions, but that does not give them the right to treat you poorly because of your injury.
Finding Out More About Light Duty Work
Types of light duty work vary significantly. Your employer will likely work with their human resources person, your doctor, and possibly even your attorney to decide if light duty work is a good option for your particular situation and what you will be doing. Everyone’s situation is slightly different.