Can My Employer Force Me to Return to Work Early After an Injury?
It can be very frustrating when you’ve been injured due to a workplace accident and your employer is requesting your return before a full recovery. Your job is important, but so is your health, and that should always be your number one priority.
Returning to work can only happen when you’re physically capable of doing your job. Your doctor determines when that time is, and your employer cannot override an authorized approval. If you go against your physician’s orders and return to work, you’ll lose your workers’ compensation benefits. That also means that if you then decide you should not have returned yet and try to take more time off, you will not receive any benefits and you’ll be at risk of your employer replacing you.
One option your employer has is creating a temporary position that fits within your physical restrictions. They must present this as a formal job offer, otherwise you are not obligated to take it. A temporary job offer must also be approved by your doctor first, which you must accept if it’s accepted. If the job is approved and you decide not to take it, you will lose the right to compensation for loss of wages. You’ll still be entitled to medical care coverage, but you won’t receive any wages until you return to work.
If you believe you’re ready to return to work but still have some doubts, you have the option to try a “trial” return to your position, the conditions of which are agreed upon by you, your doctor, and your employer. Keep in mind that this trial period cannot last more than nine months. If, during the trial period you decide you cannot fulfill your duties, you may leave your position until you’ve recovered enough to return at 100% capability. You will still receive full workers’ compensation even if the trial is not successful.
No employer should ever pressure you to return to work if you’re legally permitted to recover at home for a specified time. At Prior, Criner & Edwards Attorneys, we have worked with clients that battled with their employers over this issue, sometimes even losing workers’ compensation rights due to an employer violation. It’s important to work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney when it comes to these situations to maintain your workers’ compensation rights. Don’t fight this alone. We offer free consultations at our firm to get you started on your case. Contact us today so we can help you through any issues you may be having with your employer.
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We are a law firm of Prior, Criner & Edwards Attorneys certified attorneys legal services, specializing in all areas of law throughout southeastern North and South Carolina.
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Prior, Criner, & Edwards Attorneys
508 Market St
Wilmington NC 28401
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