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By stephen of Kristensen, LLP posted in Employment Law -- Employee on Monday, August 24, 2020.
How Long After A Workplace Injury Does Your Employer Need to Wait Before Asking You to Return To Work

When you’re injured on the job, there can be a lot of associated anxiety. Am I okay? Will I make a full recovery? Is my employer angry? Will I lose my job? When can I return to work? What does the process of getting workers’ compensation look like? The first and most important thought on your mind should be only one: How can I focus on my health and well-being?


After an injury, your recovery and wellness is the most pressing concern. Most employers will be fully supportive of this fact, although unfortunately this may not always be the case. So, how long after a workplace injury does your employer need to wait before asking you to return?


The most important thing to note is the only person who decides when you can return back to work is your doctor. Every time you visit with a healthcare provider to assess your injury and recovery, they will make notes and determinations that become a part of your medical file, and are all taken into consideration as they decide how to proceed.


If your doctor does not think you are ready to return to work then you don’t return to work – your employer cannot supersede your doctor’s medical determination, and doing so would violate your rights as a worker. Plus, if you return to work early – especially if it’s against the professional recommendation of your medical provider – you will lose your compensation benefits, and your employer can replace you if you find you are not capable of performing your job. The most important thing to do after a workplace injury is to focus on your health and recovery and let your doctor be your advocate.


If you and your doctor are unsure if you are fully or partially recovered then you have a few options: If you may be fully recovered, then you and your doctor and employer can agree on a trial return to work. In this scenario, you can take your time determining your abilities, and take another step back if you find yourself doing too much too soon. Additionally, if your limitations are not fully prohibitive of working in some capacity, your employer may offer you responsibilities that work around your medical needs as approved by your doctor. Both of these options are designed to be fair to you as a worker and your employer’s business needs, while always keeping your health as the number one priority.


Your employer does not need to wait a designated amount of time before inquiring about your health and plans to return to work post-recovery, but they absolutely cannot pressure you into resuming full-time duties without the approval of your doctor. If you find this is happening, first, tell them you must speak with your doctor – send their medical determinations to your employer. If the pressure continues, contact our office so we can work with your doctor to protect your medical and legal interests. Your health and peace of mind is our priority.