Unfortunately, workplace injuries remain a serious public safety issue in our region. According to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services, approximately 63,500 workers are hurt on the job in the state each year. Workers’ comp insurance coverage provides much needed financial and legal protection. You can take time off to get medical care and recover from your injury.
Workers’ comp benefits help to facilitate an employee’s safe return to the workplace. In some circumstances, a worker may be ready to return to the job, but not necessarily in the same role as before. A light duty assignment may be appropriate. Here, our Arizona workers’ compensation attorney provides a comprehensive guide to light duty restrictions.
What is Light Duty?
While recovering from their injury, a worker may not be able to do all of the physically-demanding that they did prior to the accident. A light duty assignment (light duty work, modified duty, etc) is alternative work and/or adjusted work that allows a person to return to the job in a less-demanding role. Light duty assignments can come in many different forms. Examples include:
- Reassignment to a new job (office work, etc);
- Excuse from certain strenuous tasks (lifting heavy objects etc);
- A part-time or otherwise less-demanding schedule; and
- Any other change to work conditions that meets a worker’s medical needs.
Light Duty Assignments Must Be Consistent with Medical Recommendations
In Arizona, injured workers have a right to take the time that they need to recover from their injuries. A light duty assignment can help to facilitate the return to the workplace and will also allow a worker to physically and mentally recover from their injuries.
To satisfy state regulations, any light duty must be fully consistent with medical recommendations. An employer cannot force a worker to return to the job to perform a position that they are not physically capable of doing in a safe manner.
Workers’ Comp Benefits Continue During Light Duty Work
In Arizona, a worker can continue to receive workers’ comp benefits while on a light duty assignment. State law holds that workers’ comp covers all reasonable and necessary medical care. If medical care is still needed, it is still covered. Additionally, temporary disability benefits can help to make up for some of the wage loss gap if the light duty position is lower paying than the worker’s previous job role.
Arizona Does Not Require Employers to Offer Light Duty Work
Employers in Arizona are not legally obligated to create a light duty position for a worker who was hurt on the job. While a well-structured light duty position can offer benefits to both parties (employer and employee), Arizona law does not mandate that businesses or organizations make an effort to accommodate a worker with a light duty job position.
Get Help From Our Arizona Workers’ Comp Attorney Today
At Snow, Carpio and Weekley, PLC, our Arizona workers’ compensation lawyer is committed to delivering high quality guidance and support to clients. If you were hurt on the job and you have questions about light duty work, we can help. Contact us today for your free, confidential case evaluation. We handle workers’ compensation claims throughout all of Arizona.