After a work injury, workers may have many questions, such as: when can I get back to work? The answer to this question depends on the specifics of your situation. However, you may feel pressure to get back to work quickly out of fear of losing your job. That is why you should learn more about what Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development says about returning to the job after an injury.
The Green Bay workers’ compensation lawyers at Sigman Janssen are available to discuss your workplace injury. Schedule a free consultation to find out how we may be able to help you.
Should You Try to Return Quickly?
Studies indicate the longer a worker is off work following an injury, the more difficult it is for him or her to return to work. Therefore, employees are encouraged to return to work quickly. Returning to work quickly also helps make it more affordable for your employer, who can pay less in workers’ compensation benefits.
You likely have your own reasons for wanting to return to work quickly, such as wanting to receive your full pay, catch up on bills and avoid the possibility of not being able to return to your job.
However, you should not try to return to work before your doctor has advised you to do so. Returning to work too quickly can cause you to become reinjured on the job.
If your doctor has said that you can return to work, you should try to do so. This may help put you in a stronger position to obtain the partial disability benefits you may be eligible to receive.
If you are not able to perform the same type of job that you did before, your employer can assign you to limited duty or alternative work so that you can ease back into the workplace. If the new job you are given pays a lower rate than the job from which you were injured, you can still receive workers’ compensation benefits.
What if I Cannot do the Same Job as Before?
Your doctor may advise you to return to work while you are still healing. He or she may say that you are recovered enough to handle lighter, restricted work that is different than the work you performed before your injury. You may be able to perform this lighter work for a limited amount of time.
If you cannot perform the same job as you did before, it is important to develop a plan for returning to work with your employer and doctor. You can receive reasonable accommodations to help make the job more manageable. During this transition, you should get reviews and updates from your doctor and employer about your ability to work.
When you are working at a lower-paying job, you may be eligible for temporary partial disability benefits. These benefits are provided when you are offered a reduction in wages or work hours during the healing period. These benefits are paid in proportion to the wage reduction.
If your employer does not have a job you can perform given your medical limitations and you suffer a work injury to your whole body, back, neck or head, you may be able to pursue a loss of earning capacity claim. Other factors are considered for this type of claim, such as your salary, education and age.
Another option is to receive retraining. This process involves you getting additional education so you can learn new skills and prepare for a different type of work/job.
Employers May Refuse to Rehire Injured Workers
Wisconsin law does not impose a requirement on an employer to hold a job open for you while you are injured or to create a new position once you are released to return to work. Additionally, Wisconsin employers are not required to rehire an injured worker who is ready to go back to work.
However, when suitable employment with your employer is available and you can perform the work given your medical limitations, your employer should offer you employment. If your employer does not do so and does not have reasonable cause for this denial, you might be eligible for compensation for your lost wages for one year.
Contact Us for a Free Case Review
Sigman Janssen has been providing legal counsel to Wisconsin injury victims for nearly 100 years. We have an established record of recovering fair compensation for injured workers.
If you have questions about your workers’ compensation claim, call to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys are here to answer your questions and are prepared to assist you in pursuing benefits.