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Light-duty work in Minnesota workers' compensation: What to know

When you've been injured on the job, one of your duties is to make certain that your employer is aware of any changes in your condition that might allow you to return to work.

While Minnesota employers are not required to offer light-duty positions to their injured employee, many will do so once that employee becomes capable of handling some form of employment. If you're being offered light-duty work, here are some important things you need to keep in mind:

1. You could lose your benefits if you don't accept

While light-duty may not be what you ultimately aspire to, you have to be careful about refusing an employer's legitimate offer. You could give the insurer cause to terminate your benefits.

On the other hand, if the job is somehow purposefully demeaning and designed to humiliate you as retaliation for filing a workers' comp claim in the first place, it's probably time to speak to an attorney about your legal rights.

2. You are entitled to reasonable accommodations

What your employer considers "light-duty work" and what actually meets the restrictions you are under may be two different things. For example, maybe you're offered an office job typing and filing up reports all day. However, your back injury prevents you from sitting for more than an hour at a time, and you can't bend at the waist repeatedly, which makes the job painful -- if not impossible -- and could injure you further.

Work with your doctor to get an explicit description of the restrictions you are under in order to get accommodations that work.

3. If your pay is cut, you are entitled to additional benefits

If your employer reduces your pay while you are on a light-duty assignment, you are entitled to additional cash benefits from the workers' comp system to help make up the difference between your benefit amount and the light-duty pay.

Don't allow an employer to manipulate your rights to benefits after a work injury through light-duty work. While many employers have their employees' best interests in mind, some will try to "game" the system just to get you off the insurance rolls.

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