If your employer does have a light-duty work program, then you must attempt to return to work, since your temporary disability benefits will be terminated. Unless you have secured a position with another employer, it is advisable to make yourself useful to the company when you return to work. However, do not be afraid to refuse to perform a task which requires you to violate the light-duty restrictions set forth by your physician. Keep a copy of your light-duty note with you at work, and politely remind your supervisor that you need to follow your doctor’s orders to avoid reinjuring yourself. If possible, document any heavy work you are directed to perform, by keeping a copy of any written work requests or taking a photograph depicting the work area.
At the next doctor’s visit following your return to work, you should discuss the activities which you have been requested to perform at work, and explain the symptoms you are experiencing as a result. Ask the physician to make a note if you are being forced to work beyond your light-duty restrictions. The doctor will hopefully either reiterate that the light-duty restrictions must be enforced or give you a new “out of work” note.
If your supervisor continually requests that you perform overly-strenuous tasks, then you should keep a log of those activities to refresh your memory in the event it is necessary to explain these examples to the Court in the future. Your attorney should send a letter to the carrier explaining that the light-duty restrictions are not being respected by your employer, and requesting the resumption of temporary disability benefits until light-duty work is provided. If you anticipate being able to work full-duty in the future, it may also be helpful for your attorney to forward a letter to the employer, or the employer’s attorney, reminding the company that it should inform the insurance carrier if it has become too difficult from a business perspective to provide you with continued light-duty work, thereby triggering the recommencement of temporary disability benefits. However, if it appears that you may have a permanent restriction and you want to keep your job, it may not be the best long-term strategy for you to discourage your employer from offering to accommodate your disability.