My Employer Won’t Let Me Come to Work While I’m on Light-Duty – What Do I Do?
First of all, if your employer won’t let you come to work while you’re on light duty restrictions, don’t take it personally. Many employers out there simply don’t offer light-duty work, and others may have some light-duty work but it may only be sporadic.
What to do:
- Communicate with your employer about this and keep them informed of your work status
- Even if your employer says they don’t offer light-duty work, call and check in every so often and let them know you are willing to work if they provide you with tasks that your doctor says are appropriate (and ALWAYS keep track of these communications!).
- If you are not able to work for your employer while you are on light duty, you may need to be job searching.
Why do I have to job search?
If your employer does not offer you work within the doctor’s light duty restrictions, and you are not under an Award through the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission to receive lost wages; then you must job search to be entitled to workers comp lost wage benefits from the insurance company under Virginia’s current rules.
Job Search requirements:
I have seen several injured workers denied lost wage benefits over the years because the Commission deemed that they did not do an adequate job search. The tips below will help you make sure you do job search that is sufficient for you to receive lost wage benefits for your claim.
- Compose a resume
- Register with the Virginia Employment Commission
- Search for jobs that you are physically able to do according to the restrictions the doctor has you under
- Apply for 10 jobs throughout the course of a week (DO NOT do them all in one day!)
- Document EVERYTHING – When you apply for a job online, you need to PRINT confirmation of your attempt to seek gainful employment.
- Mix it up – A lot of job searching is done online these days but use other avenues available to you as well – pick up the phone or apply in person when you can
- Keep a log – again, documentation is key. Every time you apply online, make a phone call or talk to someone in person, you need to log this with printed confirmations, dates, times, names, and the company and position applied for.
The idea is basically this: If you were working 40 hours a week before you were injured, and the doctor has not limited the hours you can work, you want to spend 40 hours a week looking for work that you can physically do and have the insurance company pay you lost wage benefits while you do this.
Light duty restrictions can vary greatly depending on the severity of your injuries. Some doctors may restrict your use of a computer, the time allowed to work or job search, or even your ability to drive. All of these factors can make it hard for you to know what you should be doing, and a lot of folks I talk to have no idea if they are under an Award for their lost wages or if they need to be actively job searching.
If you find yourself in this position it is best to consult with a lawyer to ensure you are taking all the necessary steps that are required of you so that you are eligible to get all of the benefits available to you through workers’ compensation insurance. DO NOT WAIT! A week without job searching, or an insufficient job search effort will make all the difference on whether you get that lost wage check or not!
If you have questions about your responsibilities as an injured worker or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.
About the Author: Michele Lewane
The Injured Workers Law Firm is a Richmond, Virginia based firm solely focused on serving clients with workers' compensation claims in Virginia. If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order our book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” , or call our office today (804) 755-7755.