Are Employers Required to Hold Your Job Open While You are on Workers’ Comp?

documents about employee firingWhen employees get injured on the job and cannot work, there can be a lot of uncertainty about when they may be able to go back. However, if you do recover and are ready to go back to work, will you still have a job to go back to?

Below, learn more about why your employer may not hold your job open and wait for you to return. We also discuss what happens to your workers’ compensation benefits if your employer terminates you while you are collecting benefits.

What Does it Mean to be an At-Will Employee?

Unless you signed a contract with your employer outlining the terms of your employment, you are likely an at-will employee. What this means is that you can be fired by your employer for any reason, unless doing so would break the law. For example, it would be illegal to fire you for engaging in some sort of protected activity, such as reporting discrimination or filing a workers’ compensation claim.

While your employer cannot fire you simply because you filed a workers’ compensation claim, you could be fired while you are unable to work for some other reason. There is also no requirement for your employer to hold your job open indefinitely while you recover from your on-the-job injury.

What if I Can Return to Work With Restrictions?

Your doctor may release you to return to work with certain restrictions, which could include:

  • Limitations on physical activities, like lifting heavy objects
  • Changes to your schedule
  • Light duty assignments
  • Modified equipment
  • Revised working conditions

If your employer offers you work, it must fit within those prescribed restrictions.

However, your employer may or may not try to accommodate these restrictions. If your employer cannot or will not accommodate your restrictions, they may be required to provide temporary total disability benefits until you are able to return to full duty.

If the work offered does not comply with work restrictions, you should discuss your options with one of our licensed Bakersfield workers’ compensation lawyers. Injured employees cannot be required to return to work if the job fails to meet work restrictions.

Types of Work Employers Can Offer

There are three kinds of work an employer can offer an employee who suffered an on-the-job injury:

Regular Work

This is your old job at the same rate of pay with the same benefits. Your employer can offer this for a period of at least 12 months.

Modified Work

This is your old job with changes because of your injury. Employers are encouraged to offer modified duties instead of paying out supplemental job displacement benefits. The offer of modified work must last a minimum of 12 months, pay 85 percent of wages and benefits, and be within reasonable commuting distance of where you lived at the time of the injury.

Alternative Work

This is an entirely different job from the one you were doing before. The alternative work must meet the same requirements as modified work.

What if I Refuse an Offer of Work?

When an employer offers alternative or modified work that fits within the restrictions outlined by your treating doctor, you have just 30 days to accept. If you do not respond within 30 days, your employer can withdraw the offer, and you will likely become ineligible for supplemental job displacement benefits.

Call Berry, Smith & Bartell to Schedule Your Free Legal Consultation

The attorneys at our firm have more than 60 years of combined experience in workers’ compensation cases and a track record of success. Review our testimonials page to find out what our satisfied clients have to say about the services we provide.

There are no upfront fees if we take your case, and we are not paid unless we recover workers’ compensation benefits on your behalf.


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