Q: We have an employee who was injured on the job but can return to work with some restrictions. Should we offer light duty?
A: Yes, offering light duty is highly recommended for companies for several reasons:
- Light duty encourages employees to participate in their treatment and focus on their health to return to full duty. If employees don’t have the option for light duty, they often sit around at home, which isn’t good for the body or the mind.
- Your company will spend less on overtime pay and temporary staff to fill the void of the injured worker.
- If employees aren’t offered light duty, they will be paid lost wages by the company’s worker’s comp insurance. The less a company uses its worker’s comp insurance, the better its insurance rating, and in turn, the lower the notoriously expensive worker’s comp insurance premiums.
As with everything, there are also some challenges:
- It can be more work to manage someone on light duty. Documenting everything is imperative and making sure restrictions and accommodations are being met takes extra time.
- Some employees won’t want the light duty job being offered and encouraging them to take it can be difficult. (This is a good time to remind them that worker’s comp wages are typically two-thirds of their full pay.)
Bottom line: Light duty is desirable for companies and employees to keep them involved and work their way back to full duty. MRA members can download a sample light duty policy on our website.
Source: MRA - The Management Association