Protecting Injured Workers
And Their Families For The Short And Long Term

Who decides when an injured employee can return to work?

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

Someone dealing with a work-related health issue likely faces several frustrating challenges. They may require medical care, which can become expensive. They may also need to take time away from work. Particularly when someone has a serious traumatic injury or a repetitive stress disorder, rest and time away from their work might be the only way to fully recover from an injury.

Typically, employees dealing with work-related health challenges can apply for workers’ compensation benefits. Employers in Minnesota have a requirement to provide workers’ compensation coverage for all employees, including part-time workers. The available benefits can help cover someone’s medical expenses and can replace a portion of the income lost during their convalescence.

Who decides when disability benefits end and a worker must return to their job?

Healthcare professionals make most major decisions

Both the injured worker and the company that employs them could have motives to manipulate the workers’ compensation planes process. Some workers might try to continue collecting benefits when they no longer truly need them, while employers might try to deny benefits or reduce the duration of a claim without consideration for the impact it could have on an employee.

Therefore, major determinations about workers’ compensation matters often fall to the physician overseeing someone’s treatment. That physician establishes what functional limitations someone has and recommends a course of treatment to achieve the best medical outcome. The doctor’s orders are what theoretically justify a leave of absence from work and what may prompt an employer to offer certain accommodations to help someone continue their employment.

A physician can inform the employer and the state when a worker has fully recovered or achieved maximum medical improvement. At that point, there is an expectation that the worker should return to their job. However, they may require accommodations to work without re-injuring themselves. They may also have lingering limitations that could force them to seek different job tasks.

In cases where workers question a physician’s determination, they may require a second opinion or an appeal to retain their benefits. Learning more about the rules that apply to workers’ compensation benefits can be beneficial for those dealing with a job-related health challenge. Employees who know how the program functions can assert themselves when they need additional treatment or time to recover.

FindLaw Network