Do We Have To Pay An Injured Employee?
Question: We have a service technician who normally works alone and who now has a job related injury ‘sprained wrist’ and doctor’s orders instruct light duty for 2 weeks – we really don’t have anything light duty or wish to pay his current hourly wage for light duty – do we have to allow him to work light duty? Is it in our best interest to let him work light duty?
Answer: This scenario often presents a dilemma for employers. On the one hand, it’s advantageous to return an injured employee to work rather than having him collect workers comp benefits and possibly driving up your premiums. But, if, as here, there really isn’t any “light duty,” is it worth paying the employee for no work? Also, while no law requires creating work for an injured employee, “reasonable accommodation” under the ADA would encompass considering whether the injured employee might be qualified for another, available position. If there is no light duty, however, then the ADA won’t apply (and note that the ADA only covers employers with 15 or more employees).
This response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, nor is this column a substitute for formal legal assistance. For help with particular legal needs, members are invited to consult with Brooke Duncan III of Adams and Reese LLP. Mr. Duncan can be reached at 504-585-0220 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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