As you recover from a work injury, your employer may offer you light-duty work. Returning to work is generally only advisable when you are physically capable of doing so, and that may mean rejecting the offer.
That said, there are definitely instances in which you’d want to accept a light-duty position after a work injury. It depends on the nature of your injury, the position offered, and your doctor’s recommendations.
Reasons to Accept Light-Duty Work
In Illinois, one option employers have when it comes to your work-related injury is to offer employment in a capacity that accounts for your physical limitations. If your doctor releases you to perform light-duty work, then it’s often in your best interest to do so. Here are a few reasons why:
You Get to Earn Income
Many injured workers want to work, but find that they can’t return to their former occupation. Light-duty work that is designed to accommodate your needs can help you be productive without aggravating your injury. You’ll be able to provide for yourself and your family by accepting limited work duties.
Accepting Light-Duty Work Solidifies Your Claim
In the event that your employer tries to cut or reduce your benefits, it will be important to demonstrate that you are unable to work in your full capacity. Accepting a light-duty position demonstrates that you want to return to work, but have real limitations due to your injury. If your qualification for benefits is ever called into question, accepting this position can solidify your case.
You Might Still Receive Disability Benefits
If the light-duty position pays less than your former occupation, you’ll still be entitled to disability benefits in the form of temporary partial disability (TPD). TPD pays two thirds of the difference between your former pay rate and your current one, making your injury less of a burden. In addition, your employer will still need to cover medical expenses related to your injury.
Reasons to Reject a Light-Duty Position
In some cases, your employer may pressure you into accepting light-duty work by threatening to terminate your disability benefits (or even your employment). However, there are instances where you probably should reject the offer.
You Aren’t Actually Ready to Return to Work
If your employer has their own preferred network of doctors, you might have visited with a doctor who doesn’t have your best interests in mind. They might declare you ready to return to work when you aren’t actually able to do so. However, if the employer’s doctor’s assessment conflicts with that of your own physician, you might have grounds to reject the offer and still receive benefits.
The Position Doesn’t Accommodate Your Needs
Sometimes, your employer isn’t able to accommodate your needs, but makes an offer anyway. In these instances, it’s likely in your best interest to reject the offer in order to make sure you don’t aggravate your injury.
Making the Right Choice for Your Health
It’s not enough to reject light-duty work just because you don’t want it. You have to have to be able to demonstrate that you aren’t ready to return to work in any capacity. A note from your primary physician can help with that, as can a workers’ compensation attorney.
If you are receiving disability benefits due to a work injury, contact an attorney to make sure your best interests are looked after.