Light Duty Work After A Work Injury: Can I Turn It Down?

BY: Koszdin | Saturday, July 21, 2018.

While you are healing from your work injury, you may not be able to go back to your former job. In those situations, your employer might be able to offer you “light duty” work. This work could be related to your original position, or it could be something completely different. The job provided is designed to fit within your limitations imposed by your doctor—it doesn’t have to be something that you want to do.

The general rule is that an employer must offer light duty work or continue paying you benefits while you cannot return to full-duty work. If the employer offers you this type of work, you must generally accept it or face limitations of your benefits down the road. Your Van Nuys workers compensation attorney can walk you through your options if you are offered light duty work after your work injury.

Examples of Light Duty Work

Light duty work could include a wide variety of tasks. They also vary based on the type of employer you have as well. Some of the most common light-duty tasks include things like:

  • Administrative work (stuffing envelopes, organizing files, etc.)
  • Inventory-based work (organizing products, cataloging tools, etc.)
  • Picking up trash on the grounds
  • Repainting necessary markings or signs
  • Restocking first aid cabinets or kits
  • Doing safety inspections
  • Running errands
  • Ordering supplies
  • Doing safety training
  • Washing company vehicles

As long as the task falls within your restrictions, an employer can generally give it to you. However, light duty work should not be demeaning or something that is designed to “punish” you. Cleaning the floor with a toothbrush, for example, is generally not considered acceptable light duty work.

Refusing Light Duty Work

Many workers who have been injured have no desire to do the light duty work that is assigned to them. They often ask us if they are required to take whatever light duty position is offered.

While you can certainly ask your employer for a different assignment, the general rule is that you must take whatever light duty work is offered to you. If you refuse to perform that work, you risk losing workers’ compensation benefits, including supplemental job displacement benefits.

A Quick Overview of Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits

Supplemental job displacement benefits are designed to help you get skills for new jobs. They will only “kick in” if your employer is unable to offer you modified or light duty that complies with your permanent restrictions.

These benefits are up to $6,000, and they can be used for things like:

  • Tuition, books, fees, and other expenses to go back to a school listed on California’s eligible provider list
  • The cost of additional licensing or testing for certification and preparation course to get ready for those exams
  • Tools required for training courses
  • Computer equipment

This is a reimbursement program, which means that you have to incur the expense first and then the insurance company will return those funds to you as long as you submit them within five years of the work injury or two years after your voucher was issued (whichever is later).

Getting Help with Your Light Duty Assignment

If you think that your light duty assignment is unfair, demeaning, or embarrassing, or if it does not fit your work restrictions, you can take action. A Van Nuys workers’ compensation attorney can help. Contact our team to learn more about how we can step in and fight for your rights.

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