Assisting Clients Across California Since 1993

Addressing disputes over return to work offers after an injury

California workers who were injured on the job and were approved for workers’ compensation benefits need to understand certain facts about their case. Those who suffered injuries that inhibited their ability to do the job they did before could suffer aftereffects that prevent them from ever doing the same work again. However, they can do different kinds of work.

There are inevitable questions as to what a worker is entitled to from the employer in terms of work offers and what happens if there is a gap between the two sides. Understanding how to address these issues is a part of the workers’ compensation case that people need to be prepared for.

Opportunities for workers who did not fully recover

Just because a worker did not fully recover from their injuries does not mean they cannot do any kind of work at all. Returning to work for the same employer hinges on whether work is available and if the injured worker wants the work that is offered.

In some instances, the worker could be unable to do exactly what they did before, but they can do most of the duties. With that, they could receive an offer to return to regular work. They will get the same pay and benefits they did when they were injured. If the work needs to be modified in some way, it changes how they will be paid.

An example of a modified job is if a warehouse worker injured their back and there is a limit to what they can lift, but they can still perform the other basics required. They could be put in a modified position where the will adhere to the restrictions their doctor put in place. Their pay will be reduced to 85% of what they received when they were injured. There is also alternative work. This must fall under the restrictions and will be different from the previous job. The employee gets 85% of their wages and benefits.

The employee does not need to accept these offers. They will have 30 days to take or decline the job. If there is no response within that time-frame, the employee can rescind the offer.

A common refrain from workers who are getting back to their job and need different duties based on their limitations from the work injury is that the offer is not for work that they want to do. A desk job could be untenable for a person who is accustomed to performing physical labor, but their injuries are preventing them from doing what they did in the past.

The employer is not required to offer work. If they do and it is a job the person does not want, the employee can reject it. There are aspects of this back and forth that could violate the law. If the employer does not offer work specifically due to the injury or because the worker sought workers’ compensation benefits, this could be a legal violation and warrant further scrutiny.

Workers should know their rights after a work injury

Many workers’ compensation cases go beyond being injured, getting medical care and coverage for wages. It extends to when the worker has sufficiently recovered to get back to work and could be engaged in a dispute with the employer about the type of work available, what they can do and what they would like to do.

These issues might not be contentious. In many situations, there are workable solutions between employer and employee. Still, as with any aspect of workers’ compensation cases, it is vital for the worker to understand what they are entitled to. This is key to the case and getting back on the job.