We hear it all the time. The employer or insurance company says there is light duty work when, clearly, this heavy industrial employer doesn't have any light duty. Unfortunately, injured workers often refuse to go to work, only to find out that this permanently ends their temporary total disability benefits.
If you are told there is light duty work for you, show up for work. Period. The employer has the right to make up work for light duty. Kennecott has been known to have injured workers sit in a room staring at a wall for light duty work. An injured worker has no choice but to show up for work as directed and see what the employer has for them to do. Usually, the employer's light duty will meet the written medical restrictions from the doctor. But if you find that the employer has assigned work that does not meet the restrictions, talk to your supervisor. Explain exactly why the work does not match the restrictions. Make every attempt possible to fix the problem, but respectfully refuse to do any parts of the work that violate your doctor's restrictions. The employer may threaten to fire you, but you cannot do work outside your restrictions. Be clear about why you can't do some work. Keep trying to work it out. Workers comp will then reinstate temporary total disability benefits. If you quit, or refuse to report to work, temporary total disability can be lost. Do not quit your job. Refuse to do work that violates restrictions, but do the work that you can do. If the employer fires you, fine. It will be a termination for medical reasons. If you find that the light duty work causes significant increase in pain, contact your doctor. You might need your light duty restrictions revised slightly. If the light duty work is for fewer hours than normal work, or the work means the pay is lower, the workers compensation insurance company will pay Temporary Partial Disability to make up 2/3 of the lost income. This gives the employer/insurance carrier a bit of a break for providing work, while the injured worker gets more money doing light duty than he would receive being home on temporary total disability. __________________ K. Dawn Atkin
Attorney with Atkin & Associates