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Returning to Work After a Workplace Injury: Employee Rights and Responsibilities

At Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld, our Santa Barbara workers’ compensation attorneys know that California employers have no authority to force employees back to work before their physicians medically release them.

We also know that recovering from workplace injuries can leave our clients idle longer than they would like. Depending on the extent of their injuries, they may want to get their lives back, which means getting out of the house and returning to work.

Before an injured worker can consider going back to work, having an open, honest conversation with their doctor — or team of physicians — is vital so they know where their treatment stands.

Once our clients understand their medical progress — including their range of motion and pain level — they can reassess the healing process and create a timeline to return to work safely.

Once they are back to work, California employees have rights and responsibilities.

What are an Employee’s Rights and Responsibilities When Returning to Work After an Injury in California?

Depending on their line of work, our clients may be approved to return to work under a modified role, which will mean something different for each industry or position.

Before returning to work, California employees must communicate with their employers to confirm that a supervisor understands their injuries, any physical limitations they may have upon return, and the reasonable accommodations that will allow them to transition back to their previous position.

Reasonable accommodations are designed to help injured employees get back to work without the risk of further injuring themselves, and may include:

  • Arranging adaptive equipment that offers the employee increased comfort or ease in work duties.
  • Modified or “light” duty.
  • Offering work schedule or work location flexibility.
  • Providing short-term retraining to perform new but temporary work assignments.
  • Restructuring or reassigning job tasks.

The employee is responsible for following work restrictions while or after recovering from an injury or illness, as outlined by their physicians.

If you feel that your employer is asking you to perform tasks that violate the work restrictions given to you by your doctor, contact our workers’ compensation attorneys for help.

We have six physical offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, and Visalia, and our top-tier technologies provide a virtual reach to serve clients throughout California. We offer free in-person, telephone, and virtual consultations to offer straightforward legal advice for your unique needs.

Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options. 

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