If you are injured at work and receiving worker’s compensation benefits, it can be comforting to know that you are being cared for while unable to work. However, you may be wondering what happens once you can return to work. Will your job still be there? Can you be terminated while on worker’s comp?
Our Appleton worker’s compensation lawyers further explain how Wisconsin protects its injured workers. This includes why an employer may not hold your job open and wait for you to return to work, and what happens to your worker’s compensation benefits when an employer decides to terminate you.
An initial consultation is free of charge, providing an opportunity for us to determine your eligibility for compensation and allowing you to learn more about your rights and potential available legal options.
What is Considered At-Will Employment?
If you are receiving worker’s compensation benefits in Wisconsin, your employer is not legally obligated to hold the job open for you. Wisconsin is an at-will employment state. Unless you are a contracted employee, you have the right to leave your position at any time and your employer has the right to terminate your position if they choose.
Generally, employers want to hold a job open for injured workers because they want them to return to work. When an employee returns to work after an injury, the employer will not have to use their worker’s compensation insurance to continue covering his or her benefits.
It is in the best interest of both the employer and employee for the injured worker to return as soon as possible, provided the doctor signs off on returning to work and prescribes a course of treatment.
Returning to Work With Restrictions
Although you may get approved by your doctor to return to work, he or she may give you restrictions to follow for your recovery. These work restrictions could either be temporary or permanent, such as:
- Light-duty job assignments
- Limits on how many pounds can be lifted
- How often you should bend or not bend over
- Changes to work schedules
- Revised working conditions
When your doctor is specific about your capabilities and abilities after a work injury, it is important to follow such recommendations and know how these restrictions also affect you outside the workplace.
An effective return to work plan means ensuring that all parties (you, your employer and doctor) are familiar with the extent of the injury and work restrictions comply with worker’s compensation rules.
Should regular, modified or alternate work be offered by your employer, it must meet those restrictions. However, your employer is not required to create a new position once you return to work.
Vocational Rehabilitation for Injured Workers
If your injury has resulted in permanent restrictions that make it difficult or prevent you from doing the work you previously performed, you may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits in Wisconsin.
These services are provided from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation or private rehabilitation companies referred to by an employer’s insurance carrier or the Worker’s Compensation Division.
In Wisconsin, these services could include career planning, job placement or retraining for a maximum of 80 weeks. Other benefits may include travel and lodging while enrolled in a retraining program.
What If You Refuse an Offer of Work?
By returning to work as advised by your doctor, you could have a better chance at obtaining additional benefits if you attempted to return to work versus refusing an offer of work altogether.
Learn About Your Rights
Do you have questions about your job and whether it will be there after your injury has healed?
If so, our lawyers at Sigman Janssen are here to help. We are well-versed in Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation system and have advocated for many injured workers and their families over the years.
We offer a free initial consultation and charge nothing up front if we represent you. We only get paid if we help obtain worker’s compensation benefits on your behalf.
Get the legal help you need. Call (877) 888-5201.