Assisting Clients Across California Since 1993

Is my employer required to let me return to work after an injury?

Our jobs are often a major part of our identity. So, if you are not working due to a workplace injury, the time may come where your health improves, and you want you to go back to work.

In fact, your employer might be required to offer you suitable work once you are able to return to your job. But what happens if your employer will not offer you appropriate work?

Appropriate work

Most of the time, your employer must offer you a job once you recover from your workplace injury. The offer must be for job duties you are capable of performing.

An appropriate work offer could involve the regular work you performed before your injury. Such an offer must pay the same wages and benefits you earned before you were injured.

An appropriate work offer could also involve modified work. Modified work returns you to your previous position, but with changes to your duties as required by your physician’s work restrictions. Such an offer must pay a minimum of 85% of what you earned and the benefits you received before you were injured.

Any work offer must abide by work restrictions set out by your physician, last at least one year and be within a reasonable geographic distance from your home.

What if the work offer is inappropriate?

Employers do not necessarily have to offer you the type of work you want. For example, there may not be any positions in the workplace that can accommodate your work restrictions, or your employer may have justifiable business realities that prevent them from offering you the type of work you want.

If your employer refuses to offer you appropriate work solely because you were injured or sought workers’ compensation benefits, this might violate California law against retaliation in the workplace.

If your employer refuses to offer you appropriate work because your injury resulted in a permanent disability, this could violate state and federal law that requires employers to provide disabled workers with reasonable accommodations in the workplace unless doing so would cause the employer to suffer an undue hardship.

If you believe you were denied appropriate work in violation of state or federal law, you can file a claim with the appropriate state or federal agency or possibly pursue a lawsuit.