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What You Need to Know About Workers’ Compensation and Light Duty, Return-to-Work in Ohio

No one wants to experience an injury at work. But when an injury occurs, it’s important to know your rights and how you should proceed when offered return-to-work assignments by your employer.

The State of Ohio has rules and regulations on workers’ compensation.[1] These include criteria for Temporary Total Disability payments (TTD) for injured workers who are unable to return to work for the duration of their recovery.[2]

However, most employers and insurance companies prefer that injured workers resume work as soon as possible. That is why an entire subsystem within the workers’ compensation laws incentivizes injured workers to return to work on “light duty” or “limited” work assignments. Such assignments are intended to be forms of work that the employee can do while recovering from their injury.

In theory, light duty and limited-return-to-work assignments are supposed to be a win-win for all parties. Employees return to work and supplement their TTD payments with their work hours. Insurance companies do not have to pay as much in workers’ compensation payments, and employers can keep their staff roster filled.

Unfortunately, insurance companies, employers, and attending physicians don’t always have the worker’s best interests in mind, which is why workers must know their rights when they're injured.
Returning to Work with Restrictions
If you have sustained an injury at work and are being offered light-duty work, partial-return-to-work, or work-with-restrictions, here are a few things you need to know:

You are not obligated to perform your regular job while recovering from your injury if you cannot do so. Your employer may offer you a different type of job you can do with your injury, but they are not obligated to do this either. If your employer does not offer alternate work, you will likely receive TTD payments throughout your recovery.

If your employer does offer you light duty work or a partial-return-to-work or return-to-work-with-restrictions arrangement (all of which would be forms of work that your doctor signs off on), declining that offer could result in the termination of your TTD payments.

If the replacement work offers less pay or fewer hours than your normal position, you will still be eligible for partial benefits.
The Importance of Professional Counsel
While a doctor’s sign-off is required for an employer to formally request that a still-recovering employee return for partial work, doctors don’t always get their assessment of workers' recovery correct. If you feel pressured to do work that your recovery does not allow for, or if you feel pushed to return to work too soon, you should speak with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

NRS Injury Law is the largest workers’ compensation legal firm in Ohio. To fully understand your rights as an injured worker, call 855.977.6670 today.

Sources:

[1] BWC. “Info.” Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, 2022. info.bwc.ohio.gov

[2] BWC. “Applying for Benefits.” Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, 2022. info.bwc.ohio.gov

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