When you are injured at the workplace, you have a right to workers’ compensation benefits while you recover. Workers’ compensation benefits may continue as long as you are unable to work and earn wages, meaning that your employer’s workers’ comp insurer must pay you as long as you as you are incapacitated by your work-related injury or illness and no other work is available that you are capable of performing.
But what happens when an injured employee returns to work?
The Effect of Returning to Work
When an employee returns to work after being injured, if he or she receives wages equal to or greater than he or she was earning before the injury, then it is likely workers’ compensation benefits will cease. If, however, the employee is still experiencing a wage loss due to his or her injury, he or she may continue to receive loss benefits—although they will likely be for a reduced amount.
As opposed to the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which makes it mandatory for employers to reinstate the employee to the same or similar position upon returning to work, workers’ comp does not have such requirements. Those returning to work may ask for reassignment to a different position. Although an employee who has been on workers’ comp leave may not be reinstated, employers may be required to offer vocational rehabilitation or retraining services to injured workers, especially for those who will never be physically able to return to their previous position.