Can I Return to Work?
Studies show that the longer workers are off work after an injury, the harder it is for them to return to work.
If you have been advised by the doctor to return to work, an attempt should be made to return to the job even if you may not feel 100% up to it. By returning to work as directed by your doctor, you will be in a stronger position to obtain additional benefits if you attempted to return than if you refused an offer of work.
Your doctor may advise you to return to lighter, restricted work during your healing period. This work is generally different from what you were doing before your injury. It often is to your advantage to return to work early within the limitations set by your doctor.
You can work with your employer and doctor to develop a customized plan for returning to work. An effective return to work plan should include:
- An on-going relationship among the worker, employer and the doctor to ensure that all parties are familiar with the nature and extent of the injury/illness as well as workers compensation rules.
- Reasonable accommodation guidelines for placement in restricted or limited work
- A main contact person to work with the insurance carrier
- Regular reviews and updates from the worker, employer and doctor.
What Happens If My Employer Does Not Rehire Me Once I Can Return To Work?
There is no legal guarantee that a job will be available for you after an injury. The employer is not required to hold a position open or create a new position once you are released to return to work.
However, when suitable employment with your employer is available and within your physical and mental limitations, your employer should offer you the employment. If your employer, without reasonable cause, refuses to rehire you when suitable employment is available, you may be eligible for compensation of wages lost during the period of refusal, up to one year of wages.
You may file an application for a formal hearing for the compensation of lost wages if you believe that your employer did not have a good reason for not rehiring you.
Through the hearing process, a determination will be made on the availability of suitable employment. However, any written rules or policies issued by the employer and/or provisions of collective bargaining agreements with respect to seniority will impact the availability of suitable employment.