A “light-duty policy” is an employer’s practice or procedure for allowing an injured or temporarily disabled worker to perform a job other than those that she or he was performing when not injured or disabled.
Employees should be aware of these features of the light-duty policy:
An employer does NOT have to have a light-duty policy. This generally means that if your employer does not have a light-duty policy and if you cannot perform the essential functions of your job even with reasonable accommodations, your employer does not have to assign you another position that you can perform and you may be required to take leave or be terminated.
An employer usually cannot offer some workers light duty when injured/disabled and not offer it to other employees. This could open up an employer to claims of employment discrimination. Also, employers should offer temporary light-duty assignments to pregnant employees with work restrictions if the employer provides the same accommodation to non-pregnant employees who have similar work restrictions.
Light duty cannot be indefinite. There is no requirement that an employer accommodate an employee with the hope that, at some unknown time in the future, he or she will be able to return to his or her former position. So, be careful about the time you need or ask for on light duty.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows a worker to refuse light-duty work and retain his or her FMLA leave rights. The right to take FMLA leave is absolute. If an employee on FMLA refuses light-duty work, though, the refusal may result in a loss of workers’ compensation benefits.
Finally, consider consulting with a lawyer before asking for or accepting light duty work, to make sure your rights are protected. Equally as important, if your employer does not have a light duty policy, there may be other laws that provide you with job protections.
If you have questions or seek information about the “light-duty policy,” please contact us through the form below or call us toll-free at 1-888-456-2529.