If you have been injured on the job in Texas, you might receive a ‘light duty’ offer from your employer. A light duty position is one that is less physically demanding than your previous job role. It could be an entirely new position, or you could be returning to your old position but with exemptions from performing some of the more demanding job tasks. Light duty assignments are often temporary and offered for the duration of the injury recovery period, but they can also be permanent. There are a few things injured Texas workers need to consider before accepting a light duty position from an employer.
You Should Not Return to Work Until You are Medically Cleared
Employers have a financial incentive to get you back on the job as soon as possible. Once you start earning a paycheck again, your workers’ compensation payments will be reduced or possibly eliminated altogether. This saves money for the insurance company and will also help reduce an employer’s insurance premiums. Because of the financial incentive, some employers will try to pressure employees back on the job before they are truly ready. You should not return to work until you are medically cleared. It is a decision for your doctor, not your employer. You have the legal right to take the time you need to recover. If you are not medically ready to perform a light duty job, you are not required to do so.
Know Your Limits
Medical restrictions that are vague are not helpful. You need to make sure that your medical restrictions are clear so that you can effectively apply them to your specific circumstances. For example, imagine that you sustained a serious back injury. As part of your recovery, you are restricted from lifting heavy objects. What happens when your boss asks you to lift a 30 pound box? Is that a heavy object? For some people, particularly those with back injuries, bending down and lifting 30 pounds is dangerous. But, your boss may not feel that way. You can avoid this issue by ensuring that your medical restrictions are clear and detailed. In this example, instead of a restriction that stops you from lifting ‘heavy objects’, your restriction should specify a precise weight limit.
Be Skeptical of ‘Fake’ Positions
Ideally you will be able to return to a steady, long term, light duty position that meets all of your needs. But, not all employers have those positions available. For example, many small construction companies have very few true ‘light duty’ positions. If a ‘light duty’ position seems like it is phony, or has been made up just for you, you should view it with a skeptical eye. Unfortunately, some employers will allow a worker to take a ‘fake’ light duty position for a little while and then will turn around and quickly eliminate the position for “financial reasons”. This is an illegal tactic that is used to remove injured workers. If this has happened to you, you may want to contact a lawyer who handles retaliatory termination cases.
Need Legal Help?
We are committed to fighting for the rights of injured Texas workers. If you have been hurt on the job in Texas, we will help. Please contact our San Antonio office today at (210) 308-8811 to schedule a free case evaluation.