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Light Duty Rights & Requirements

Slape & Howard June 6, 2023

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2,607,900 total recorded cases of nonfatal injuries and illnesses to private industry employees in the United States in 2021. In Kansas, employees who suffer workplace injuries or illnesses may receive workers compensation benefits—medical expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits—and get some time off work to recover. Upon recovering, your physician might clear you to return to work with light-duty work restrictions. 

At Slape & Howard, we are dedicated to offering compassionate representation and personalized attention to employees in workers compensation-related matters. Our experienced Kansas workers compensation attorney can work to understand your unique situation and enlighten you about your rights and options to return to light-duty work following a workplace injury or illness. We're proud to serve clients across Wichita and surrounding areas throughout all of Kansas. 

Partial & Full Workers Compensation Benefits  

Under Kansas laws, employees who suffer work-related accidents, injuries, or occupational diseases may be entitled to receive partial or full disability benefits, in addition to their medical benefits and lost wages, depending on the severity of the injury or their condition. 

Partial Benefits 

In Kansas, Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits are available to workers who return to any employment at a wage lower than their initial income prior to the workplace injury or illness. The weekly TPD benefits include 66.67% of the difference between the employee's average gross weekly wage prior to and after the injury. The employer will continue paying TPD benefits until it reaches maximum limit or the wage loss is eliminated. 

Full Benefits 

Conversely, Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits are available to injured workers who are completely and temporarily unable to return to work. Employers who are unable to accommodate the temporary work restrictions of the injured worker may also pay TTD benefits. The injured employee will continue receiving TTD benefits until they reach MMI or fully recover and return to work. 

Will My Workers Comp Benefits Continue if I Do Light Duty? 

Yes, injured employees who have been cleared by their physician to perform light-duty work will still be eligible to receive workers compensation benefits. If the light-duty job pays less than your wages prior to the injury, you will receive partial disability benefits. 

What Are Light Duty Jobs?  

Light duty jobs involve jobs that are physically and mentally less demanding that an employer can place a recovering employee until they're fully healed. Some common examples of light-duty work include: 

  • Performing administrative and office tasks 

  • Working at a desk 

  • Monitoring surveillance cameras 

  • Taking or recording inventory 

  • Supervising job sites 

  • Making sales calls 

  • Performing clerical tasks 

Can My Employer Refuse to Give Me Light Duty Work?  

Generally, employers are not required to offer light-duty work to employees who are returning to work after a work-related injury. However, a Kansas employer who wants to accommodate the returning employee must modify the job to fit the light-duty work restrictions advised by their doctor. 

Can I Refuse Light Duty?  

Essentially, an employee is not mandated to accept light-duty jobs. However, the ramification for refusing light-duty work offered by your employer will depend on the surrounding circumstances of your case. 

Scenario I: If your physician hasn't authorized you to return to work with light-duty work restrictions, you can refuse the light-duty job. There are no consequences. 

Scenario II: If your doctor has cleared you to return to work with light-duty work restrictions, your employer can file a petition to modify or terminate your workers comp benefits for refusing. 

A knowledgeable lawyer can evaluate your unique situation, decide your readiness for reemployment, and help protect your workers compensation benefits. 

Personal & Passionate Legal Advocacy 

Light-duty work is physically less demanding and allows employees to gradually return to work after a work-related injury. If your employee has refused to offer you a light-duty job or is forcing you to take one without your doctor's authorization, hiring an experienced workers compensation attorney is crucial. 

At Slape & Howard, we are ready to represent employees in complex workers compensation cases involving light-duty work. As your legal counsel, we can review every aspect of your situation and help you understand your options. Above all, our attorneys will fight compassionately for your legal rights and ensure that you can move forward with confidence. 

Contact us at Slape & Howard today to schedule a simple case evaluation with reliable workers compensation lawyers. We're proud to serve clients across Wichita and surrounding areas throughout all of Kansas.