Workplace injuries can disrupt your life significantly. You may be unable to perform your duties temporarily or even permanently, depending on the severity of your injury. As an employee in California, it is important to know your rights regarding return to work following an injury on the job.
Knowing what your employer can and cannot require of you will help you protect your health and your livelihood.
The role of a doctor’s note
In California, your employer cannot make you return to work until a doctor clears you to do so. The doctor’s note must show that you can resume work and detail any restrictions on your duties or work hours. If you receive clearance but still experience pain or difficulties, communicate this to your doctor immediately.
Reasonable accommodation and modified duty
Your employer should provide reasonable accommodation if your injury prevents you from performing certain duties. This could mean changing your work hours, modifying your tasks or even providing the necessary equipment to help you perform your job.
Worker’s compensation and disability benefits
If you are unable to return to work due to your injury, you may be eligible for temporary or permanent disability benefits through California’s worker’s compensation system. This compensation provides a part of your lost wages while you recover.
Protecting your rights
If you feel your employer is pressuring you to return to work before you are ready, or if they refuse to accommodate your injury, you have rights. You can file a complaint with the California Department of Industrial Relations or consult with someone you trust to discuss your situation.
It is important to protect your rights, your health and your livelihood following a workplace injury. Remember to always communicate openly with your doctor about your recovery and do not hesitate to get help if you feel your rights are being violated.