Accidents happen in the workplace. The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) reports that 161,860 workers missed time on the job due to work-related injuries or illnesses in 2020 alone. Workers’ compensation insurance coverage helps to ensure that people who were hurt on the job have the financial resources that they need to pay for medical care and support their families.
After going on workers’ comp, most people want to get back to the job as soon as it is healthy for them to do so. There are specialized rules and procedures in place to help ensure a safe and fair return for injured workers. Here, our Fresno workers’ compensation attorney highlights the key things to know about the process of returning to the job after receiving workers’ comp benefits.
If you are preparing to return to work at your same employer, it is crucial that you understand your rights and responsibilities under California law. Here are the three different paths that a return to the same employer can take after a workers comp claim in Fresno:
- A Straightforward Return to Previous Position: If an employee has fully recovered from their injury and can perform all the essential functions of their job, they can simply return to their previous position. For obvious reasons, this is the most straightforward path.
- A Modified Position (Light Duty): If an employee is not yet ready to perform all of the job duties associated with their previous position, they may be able to return in a modified capacity. For example, an office worker who sustained a back injury could return with a doctor’s restriction that prevents them from being asked to lift any box/heavy objects.
- An Alternative Position: In some cases, an employee may not be able to return to their previous position or perform light-duty work. In these instances, they may be eligible for an alternative position that accommodates their physical limitations. To qualify as a valid offer of alternative employment in California, the new position must last for at least 12 months and pay at least 85% of the worker’s pre-claim wages.
Your Return to Work Must Be Safe (Treating Physical Plays a Role)
Returning to work after a workers’ compensation claim in California requires careful planning and attention to physical safety. Employers and employees must work together to ensure a safe and smooth transition back to work. To be clear, your employer does not have full control over this process. Your health, safety, and medical needs matter. Your treating physician will play a key part in the process of determining whether or not you are physically ready to return to the job.
Returning to work after a serious job-related injury or illness can be complicated. If you have questions about your rights, responsibilities, and options, you are not alone. Joseph C. Yrulegui is an experienced workers’ comp lawyer who helps injured workers navigate complex legal matters. To set up a strictly confidential consultation, please contact our firmtoday. Our workers’ comp lawyer represents claimants/plaintiffs in Fresno and throughout the wider region.