Injured workers might take on light duty jobs for their employer while their injuries heal. Many jobs could be considered light duty work under workers’ comp laws in California. They include almost any job that requires less physical strength or endurance or is less mentally challenging than their regular work. Any job a worker can handle despite their injury or disability falls under the “light duty work” category.
If you were hurt on the job and have questions about workers’ comp benefits or returning to work, our team can help. A Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyer from KJT Law Group represents those hurt in workplace accidents. Call (818) 507-8525 to learn more.
What Is Light Duty Work for Injured Workers?
When you see a doctor for a workplace injury, there are several ways the doctor can handle your return to work, such as:
- They can tell you not to return to work temporarily because of your injuries.
- They can clear you to return to your job.
- They can give you restrictions, which could lead to modified or light duty work.
Under California workers’ compensation laws, employers can ask workers to return to work handling tasks as their doctor allows. This could include modifying their job tasks, offering a different job entirely, or allowing them to work from home.
Light duty work is similar to modified work, and the phrases are often used interchangeably. However, there are differences. Light duty work generally refers to work with reduced physical or mental requirements, often an entirely different position or set of tasks. Modified work usually refers to adapting or altering the required tasks so the person can continue to work their job despite their injuries. Both could be temporary or permanent, depending on the individual’s needs.
When Can a Worker Accept a Light-Duty Assignment?
Returning to work following a workplace accident or illness requires the doctor’s approval. When they approve an injured worker to return to work with restrictions, it requires a light duty or modified work assignment.
The benefit is that it allows you to return to work sooner. However, you will need to complete the light duty tasks assigned to you, which could be very different from your usual job.
The tasks required of your light duty or modified position will depend greatly on your skills, your regular job, and your industry. Some common light duty tasks include:
- Handling paperwork and administrative tasks
- Answering phones and managing computer work
- Overseeing staff or supervising work areas
- Security work such as monitoring cameras
- Cleaning or maintaining equipment
- Sorting and filing documents
Good employers will want you to continue using your skills, training, and experience to benefit the company. Others might use you to get a job done, regardless of whether it wastes your skills.
How Does Accepting Light Duty Work Affect My Workers’ Comp Benefits?
Going back to work, even on light duty, will affect your workers’ compensation benefits. How much will change depends on the circumstances. Workers’ comp will continue to pay for your medical care and treatment. However, your wage loss benefits could decrease or stop.
It depends greatly on how much the company pays you. If you are doing a slightly modified version of your own job, you could receive your regular pay. In that case, your wage loss benefits will not continue. If you receive less than your usual pay, you will receive benefits to ensure you earn up to two-thirds of your regular check.
These payments are known as partial disability benefits, and they could continue until you can return to your regular job.
Can I Turn Down Light Duty Work?
If your employer offers you light duty work, there is one situation where you should turn it down. You should not take a job if the duties require tasks that violate your medical restrictions. However, you should contact your doctor and a workers’ comp attorney right away. Your employer could put your benefits at risk.
In most cases, you should reply to your employer as soon as possible and accept the light duty assignment. They could petition to terminate or suspend your workers’ compensation benefits if you refuse to return to work without a good reason.
Understanding How Workers’ Comp Benefits Work in California
California businesses with at least one employee must pay for workers’ compensation coverage for their workers. This insurance pays if the employee suffers a workplace injury or work-related illness. According to the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), the benefits include:
- Medical care: The insurer pays all costs related to the worker’s medical treatment and care directly. The worker never receives a bill for these services.
- Wage loss payments: The insurer pays wage loss benefits totaling up to two-thirds of the worker’s regular paycheck. This income is tax-free.
- Supplemental job displacement benefits: Those with lasting injuries could qualify for vouchers to pay for certifications, retraining, and other educational benefits.
- Death benefits: The insurer pays a death benefit to survivors of workers who die from their injuries.
When something goes wrong during the workers’ compensation claims process, a workers’ comp attorney should be the first call. They know how these benefits work, how to challenge a denial, and how to protect the rights of injured workers. They do not charge directly for their services. Instead, they receive a portion of the back pay recovered in workers’ comp cases.
Talk to Our Team About Your Los Angeles Workers’ Comp Case for Free
Further discuss light duty work under workers’ comp law with a team member from KJT Law Group for free today. We provide no-cost case reviews for workers hurt on the job in Los Angeles. We will assess your options and explain how our attorneys may be able to help. Call (818) 507-8525 or fill out our online contact form.