When a California worker is injured on the job and is approved for workers’ compensation benefits, it does not necessarily mean that no work can be done at all while getting those benefits.
For many injured workers, their issues are severe enough to get workers’ compensation, but they can work with certain restrictions. This can be a tricky in the context of the worker’s capabilities and how the employer addresses it with assigned tasks. Understanding the rules for this situation is important.
When a worker is cleared to work with restrictions, the employer is required to give assignments that fall into what the worker can do. For example, the employer might give the worker some tasks that were part of the job before, but adjust them to fit into the restrictions. There can be a limit on how long the worker is required to do that job or equipment can be provided to assist in its completion. When the employer does not have this type of work available, the worker will not be forced to work.
If there are no restrictions, the employer must generally give the worker the same job as before. The pay must be the same as well. In this case, the employer can make it a requirement that the worker take the job. This is contingent on the condition and if it has improved sufficiently for the physician to say the worker can get back to work sans restrictions.
In some cases, the employer asks the injured worker to perform tasks that violate the restrictions. The employee should adhere to the restrictions from the physician. The employer should be informed as to what they are and told that the worker cannot do the tasks that violate it. When the worker refuses to perform the job, it is imperative to explain why and put it in writing if it is possible. Employers who make threats about the job or benefits due to a refusal could be violating the law.
There are many aspects to workers’ compensation benefits that go beyond simply being injured, unable to work and needing medical treatment. In instances where the worker has restrictions or there is a dispute about how much work the person can do, having legal help is imperative.