Do I Have to Agree to Perform Light-Duty Work and Could I Get Paid Less?
Light-duty work refers to the type of work an employer may offer someone who experienced a work injury. If you experience a work injury, you’ll typically receive care from a doctor and additional medical professionals, and after your doctor releases you from care, you can perform light-duty work. The work may be similar or different to the job you performed before you experienced the injury.
If you or a loved one experienced a work injury, you need to know the requirements for performing light-duty work and the kind of compensation you can expect. Additionally, you should know the circumstances that may enable you to reject performing light-duty work.
Performing Light-Duty Work in Mississippi and Louisiana
When receiving medical treatment after a work injury, your doctor will eventually inform you that you’ve reached maximum medical improvement or that you’ve recovered well enough to return to work. Maximum medical improvement means that you’ve reached a level of recovery in which you will not experience further improvements.
After you reach maximum medical improvement or your doctor says you’ve recovered enough to perform certain work tasks, you should request light-duty work from your employer. Requesting light-duty work once you’re physically able is important because one of two things can happen: your employer may offer you light-duty work that supplies you with full or partial wages, or your employer might not provide light-duty work, and that will strengthen your claim for continuing temporary disability benefits.
Although light-duty work is important for your workers’ benefits, you need to take physical limitations into account. Your doctor may have said that you can return to work in a limited capacity and need to avoid certain activities that could exacerbate your injury. Common limitations include:
- The type of work you perform
- The duration in which you can sit or stand
- Whether or not you need regular breaks
- The total number of hours you can work
- The amount of weight you can carry
Follow your doctor’s guidance for returning to work safely so that you can continue recovering from your injury. You should also inform your employer about your work limitations to ensure that they don’t assign you work that could affect your ability to recover.
Is My Employer Required to Pay Me the Same Amount as Before My Injury?
Employers are under no obligation to pay you the same amount as you earned before your injury. Your light-duty work could be completely different from the types of tasks you were performing before suffering from an injury, and this can impact the amount of compensation you can expect.
Although employers are not required to pay your pre-injury wages, you can continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits. When you’re out of work, you can receive two-thirds of the money you earned before experiencing the injury, and this also applies if you’re not earning your pre-injury earnings while performing light-duty work. You can recover two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury earnings and your wages when performing light-duty.
For example, if you received $700 a week before you experienced an injury and now you’re only receiving $500 for light-duty work, you could receive two-thirds of the compensation of the $200 difference. Two-thirds of $200 is around $133.34, so your wages from light-duty work combined with temporary disability benefits would be $633.34.
How Does Light-Duty Work Affect My Claim?
If your employer assigns you light-duty work, you are required to do it in order to retain your workers’ compensation benefits. You can only avoid performing light-duty work if it violates your doctor’s instructions for recovery.
Employers often prefer that injured employees reject light-duty work so that they can then fire them. Your employer wants you to take as little compensation as possible from the company’s insurance because insurance prices can go up when employees use the benefits. If you refuse to perform light-duty work, you can be terminated and that will negatively impact your claim. In the event that they provide work that goes against your doctor’s orders, you can refuse and continue receiving benefits.
If your employer is pressuring you to perform work duties that violate your doctor’s orders, you need skilled workers’ compensation attorneys at your side. Employers may threaten your employment status and try to end your workers’ compensation benefits if you refuse to perform duties that exacerbate your injury. Additionally, insurance companies could reject your claim for a number of other reasons. If your workers’ compensation claim is denied, it’s time to contact workers’ compensation attorneys.
Call Expert Louisiana or Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you or a loved one were injured while at work, you need expert workers’ compensation lawyers at your side to assist you with your claim. Unscrupulous employers and insurance companies may attempt to block you from the workers’ compensation you deserve, and employers may pressure you to return to work before you’re ready. Don’t let your employer and their insurance companies push you around. Call Lunsford, Baskin, and Priebe for full legal support. Our seasoned legal professionals will help you receive the benefits you deserve from your injury so that you can make a speedy recovery. Call our Jackson office at 601-488-3975, and for our New Orleans office, call 504-788-2994. You can also click here for a free case evaluation.
If your doctor releases you while you’re treating, to light duty and your employer has the ability to offer you a job at light duty, you must go. Employers love when people don’t show up for light duty because it allows them to terminate you for cause and that affects the value of your claim negatively. If they offer you an accommodated duty job at light duty that is different or similar to the job you were doing before, you must go. If they pay you less for that job, you are allowed to get two-thirds of the difference between how much they were paying and how much they’re paying you now. You won’t be making dollar for dollar what you were making, however, it will be pretty close.