Mitchell W. Horwitz, a principal partner and head the workers compensation department at Horwitz Horwitz & Associates, and Marc A. Perper, a partner and Chicago work comp lawyer answer a listener’s question on Free Legal Advice Friday’s:
My employer has offered me light duty, what should I do?
From Mitchell Horwitz:
If you are unable to work they owe you two-thirds of your pay (disability pay) and then the employer – in order to stop the payment of disability pay – offers you light duty. It’s our recommendation, as a general rule, you attempt light duty and accept light duty.
Because when light duty is offered there is two things that could occur. One, when they offer light duty the weekly disability pay you’re getting is going to stop. So the only way to earn money is to return to light duty. And the second thing you risk if you don’t accept the light duty, you risk being fired for cause. The employer has offered you a job, you don’t show up – it’s a no show – and they can discharge you for cause, which can create all kinds of problems at that time in the case and later on in the case.
So, it is our recommendation that you attempt light duty. If you are not clear about it, talk to an attorney so they can go over your restrictions, make sure you are put in a position to where you are not going to re-injure yourself, and it’s safe. That’s the key – no further injury and safety – making sure they don’t do anything unsafe with you.
From Marc Perper:
If your doctor has released you to light duty with specific restrictions (let’s suppose your doctor’s released you to 20 lbs. lifting with no bending, stooping. climbing, crawling, reaching) and your employer is willing to accommodate those restrictions, you pretty much have to try the job.
If you don’t try the job, if you’ve been receiving workers comp benefits, your benefits will probably be cut off.
If you try the job and you find your able to do it, then that’s fine. If the job pays less than what your pre-injury line of work would pay, you can be compensated for the difference in pay.
If you find that you’re unable to do the job, you can always go back to your doctor and see if he’ll tighten up the restrictions.
If you find that the job is outside your restrictions, we would advise you to remind the employer that you’ve been released to specific restrictions, so that they tailor it to your specific restrictions.
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