Going Back to Work after an Injury

When an employee has been injured at work and has gone through their recovery, the day comes when it is time to return to work. Depending on the circumstances of their injury, this can be a bit overwhelming to the employee, especially if they have been out of work for a longer period of time. In fact, multiple studies have shown that when an injured worker has been away from their job for a long period, it is difficult for them to return to their prior position.

The employer has a responsibility to ensure that when the employee returns, he or she is returning to a safe environment and that there is no negative impact on the employer/employee relationship because of the injury and workers’ compensation claim. An attorney, like a workers comp attorney NY locals rely on, can help ensure that the return to work transition is a smooth one for the employee.

What is the employer’s responsibility when the injured employee turns to work?

Every state’s workers’ compensation laws, an employee has the right to return to their old job once they are recovered. This is true even if there are adjustments that need to be made in order for the employee to complete their required job duties.

When an employee is ready to return to work, they may still be in the midst of recovering. If this is the case, or if there has been permanent damage left by the injury, then the employer should provide reasonable accommodations that will allow the employee to perform their job duties without suffering any discomfort or pain. It can be helpful for the employee and employer discuss what the plan should be either before the employee returns or immediately upon it.

The employee may still be under the care of the doctor who is treating the injury. They may need to leave work for doctor’s visits, diagnostic testing, and physical therapy for the injury. An employer needs to allow the employee to attend these medical appointments.

And even though you have returned to work, the expenses for the continued medical treatment is still the responsibility of the employer. Your attorney can oversee submitting all of these expenses to the responsible party.

It is not uncommon for an employee to work a partial shift when they return to work because this is what their doctor feels is best. For example, instead of working eight hours per day, the employee only works four hours. In these situations, the employer would make up the difference between the employee’s regular wage and what they are earning on their partial schedule. This would be paid through the workers’ compensation insurance policy.

If an employer is unwilling to accommodate the employee based on medical recommendations, or otherwise gives the employee a hard time, this could be considered discrimination or retaliation and the employee should speak with their attorney.


Thank you to Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C for providing their insight on returning to work after an injury.