After hurting yourself at work, you filed a workers’ compensation claim with your employer. While you recover, your company assigned you modified work duty. Can you refuse duty you do not feel comfortable with?
Chron explains when injured employees have the right to turn down modified duty. Understand your workers’ comp rights, so you know how to protect them.
Withholding workers’ comp payments
If you reject light duty while receiving workers’ comp payments, your employer could withhold all or a portion of your payments. Even then, your company may not terminate you from your position if you have yet to use all your unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Companies that adhere to the FMLA allow workers to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to treat an injury or illness. Ill or injured workers who have yet to exhaust their leave may refuse modified duty.
Reinstating an injured worker
As long as you still qualify for FMLA leave, you may request that your company reinstate you in your old position or a similar one. If your company cannot offer you a light-duty assignment, you may collect workers’ comp.
As long as you use paid vacation time or have yet to exhaust your FMLA leave eligibility, your company cannot threaten to terminate you for turning down light duty. When you use all your vacation time and paid sick leave and no longer qualify for FMLA leave, your employer may terminate you from your position. Depending on the circumstances, you could have a wrongful termination case if your company dismisses you.
You should not feel you must compromise while recovering from a workplace injury. Learn your company’s obligations toward injured workers, so you know how to look out for yourself.