What to do when your Employer tries to get you to return to work?
You’ve sustained an injury on the job causing you to go out of work. You are currently receiving workers’ compensation benefits. You’ve been receiving medical treatment, through workers’ compensation, which has been slow. Both you and your doctor feel that you are unable to return to work. However, you’re employer begins contacting you about returning to work.
These situations are quite common, but unfortunately, there is no one single correct answer. Every injury is different. Every Employee is different. Every doctor is different. And, most importantly, every Employer is different. There is simply no way to know exactly how any given Employer is going to react under the circumstances.
There are, however, some practical guidelines that may help in these scenarios.
The first question to ask is whether or not the injured employee feels he or she is ready to return to work. If the Employee believes they are ok to return, then perhaps it is time. If so, then the injured employee should discuss the matter with his or her doctor. This will give them the opportunity to discuss his or her present state, any ongoing symptoms, etc. The doctor may agree that the employee can return to work. In situations such as this, we generally advise the Employee to go back and give it a try. The doctor may also release the Employee to return to work, but with certain restrictions, such as “no overhead lifting.” Either way, it always looks good for an Employee to give it a try.
We also remind them of what is known as the “28-day rule.” M.G.L. Chapter 152, Section 8(2)(c) provides that if an injured Employee goes out on comp, subsequently returns to work, and then is forced to go back out of work within 28 days of his/her return, then the workers’ compensation benefits must be reinstated.
If, however, the Employee feels that he or she is still unable to return to work, and the Employer keeps badgering them about coming back, the situation gets a little more complex. Here is where there isn’t any one piece of advice that works in every situation. We generally advise the clients to try and be as cooperative as possible during this process. This can mean simple things such as returning their phone calls. If the case has to proceed in litigation, it always pays dividends to be able to show that the Employee was cooperative.
Sometimes, Employers can get pushy and insist on a decision within a certain time frame. Though all situations are different, we generally advise the Employee to explain to his or her Employer that they must discuss any return to work with their doctor.
Many times, situations like this inevitably lead to the Insurer/Employer taking action to terminate the Employee’s benefits. If this happens, it is all the more reason to have been in close contact with your attorney throughout this process.
The importance of contacting an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as early as possible following a work injury is essential. As discussed above, often times Employers and Workers’ Comp Insurers will really come on strong with Employees about getting them back to work. No situation is the same. Otherwise, advising clients would be a much easier process. So, having an experienced attorney to guide you through this difficult time is invaluable.
At Troupe Law Office, we have over 40 years of experience in this field. Please visit our web site at https://www.troupelawoffice.com for more information. Or, call us at (978) 531-7401. We offer free consultations for all cases.