After a job-related accident, employees may sometimes feel pressure from their boss to go back to work too soon. However, going back to work before being medically cleared can cause many problems for an injured worker.
At Greg Coleman Law, we know this type of pressure may raise a lot of questions and concerns for employees. After being hurt on the job, can you be fired for not returning to work? Will you still receive benefits, such as medical care, if you go back to work too soon?
Our experienced Knoxville workers’ comp attorneys are here to help answer your legal questions. If you need legal help, your initial consultation is confidential and free, so there is no risk in calling us.
FREE Case Review. (865) 247-0080
Can Employers Fire Injured Workers for Not Returning to Work?
An employer cannot fire an employee for filing a valid workers’ compensation claim. An injured employee also cannot be fired for missing work while recovering from a job-related injury. However, it is important to understand that your boss is not legally required to hold your job. While this may worry you, remember it is likely in your employer’s best interests to keep your job open. The hiring process costs money too, and training a new worker takes time.
You may help to improve your chances of getting your job back by staying in touch with your boss as you recover. Taking time to update your boss gives him or her an idea of when you may return. It also shows your boss that you are genuinely interested in getting back to work.
Returning to Work Too Soon Carries Risks
While being eager to go back to your job may be a good thing, returning to work too soon carries risks. Working again before your treating physician has cleared you may cause you to:
- Reinjure yourself, which could set your recovery further back
- Cause irreversible damage that slows or halts your ability to recover fully
- Harm your workers' comp claim and make you ineligible for further medical benefits
- Stop getting workers’ comp payments since your boss is not obligated to pay them once you are back at work
Why Employers May Pressure Workers to Return to Work
While your primary focus after suffering a job-related injury is to heal, your employer has different priorities. Remember that your employer and his insurance carrier pays for your workers’ comp benefits. The longer you are out recovering, the more money your employer shells out. If your boss convinces you to return to work sooner, and you agree, it can save the company some money. Many injured workers may feel they have to return to work sooner in this situation or risk losing their job.
Whether your employer decides he or she cannot continue to hold your job, it does not impact your ability to receive benefits. Legally, your employer cannot discontinue your workers’ comp payments if you are still under medical care.
That said, you also have responsibilities you must follow, which include:
- Following your doctor’s orders, such as physical therapy or avoiding certain activities
- Not missing any medical appointments – doing so makes it seem you do not really want to recover
- Being honest with your doctor about your injuries (not exaggerating to stay off work longer)
Accept Light-Duty Work if Cleared By Your Doctor
After reaching maximum medical improvement, which applies both to personal injury claims and workers’ compensation, your doctor may reassess you. He or she may determine that you are still not able to safely perform all your former job duties. However, it may be possible for you to do some light-duty work. If your doctor clears you for this, you must accept the offer. Failing to do so may cause you to lose your benefits and possibly even your job.
The light-duty position, if offered to you by your employer, must meet certain requirements. If the light-duty work violates any restrictions prescribed by your doctor, you do not have to accept it. In this situation, it may be possible to continue recovering at home while still receiving your benefits.
Being Pressured to Return to Work Too Soon? Call Our Law Firm for Legal Help
At Greg Coleman Law, we are deeply committed to protecting workers who have been injured on the job. We have represented injured victims for decades, including those injured at work, and recovered millions on their behalf.
If you are being pressured to return to work too soon, we may be able to provide legal help. We also have the staff and resources to help if you are filing your initial claim or appealing a claim that was denied.
Call our law offices to learn about your potential legal options. We are ready to answer your questions at no cost or obligation to you. If we represent you, there are no upfront costs to worry about. We do not get paid unless or until we make a recovery on your behalf.
Proven Results. (865) 247-0080