If you need to take time off after a work-related injury, workers’ compensation helps you continue to receive some of your lost wages. However, unless you have a permanent disability that will keep you from working again, your employer and your workers’ comp insurer have a vested interest in getting you back to work as soon as possible.
Your primary treating physician will ultimately need to give the authorization for you to start working again and will need to detail any restrictions or requirements necessary. This is why it’s crucial for you to make sure your doctor understands what is required of you to do your job and what you need to avoid exacerbating your injury or re-injuring yourself
These restrictions often involve how much weight a person is allowed to lift or carry, if that’s a regular part of their job. If you have a desk job, there may be ergonomic requirements for your desk, chair or computer. You may also have restrictions on how long you can perform a particular task without a break.
What if your employer requires you to do something that violates your restrictions?
Some employers are better than others when it comes to helping their employees return to work. They respect the restrictions an employee needs to do their job or provide them with an alternative job that isn’t as strenuous or better accommodates their needs.
If your employer gives you assignments that violate your work restrictions, you can and should remind them of those restrictions. They should have a copy of that information on file. If you have to refuse a directive to do something, it’s wise to put it in writing.
Under California law, employers can’t terminate or threaten to terminate employees for adhering to the restrictions they were given following a workplace injury. If your employer can’t meet your restrictions or provide you with an alternate position, you need to notify your workers’ comp claims administrator so that you don’t lose your benefits.
California has more comprehensive workers’ compensation laws than many other states. However, that doesn’t mean that employers or insurers always adhere to them. It’s crucial that you know your rights from the time you’re injured through your return to work. If you have concerns that your rights are being violated, it’s wise to seek legal guidance.