Under Iowa law, if your employer offers you light duty work then you should at the very least go into work and try it. We recommend that you keep a copy of your current work restrictions in your pocket or in your locker at work in case someone asks you to work outside of your restrictions. Some examples that we have seen over the past 20 years of light duty work some of it legitimate and some of it not which include:
a. Cleaning and janitorial type work;
b. Desk type work such as making phone calls, filing, etc.
c. Your normal job with assistance with lifting;
d. Doing nothing while sitting in a small room with other injured workers;
e. Make work jobs such as counting paper that has been shredded for no apparent reason;
f. Having injured workers stand in front of the rest of the factory and count meaningless things; and
g. Many more jobs some legitimate and some not.
Do I need to accept light duty work?
There are certain circumstances where you may be able to refuse light duty work, but if you do then you must be prepared to not collect any workers' compensation and potentially have your unemployment claim denied as well. Some employers like John Deere believe in always having you at work even after you have surgery in the morning. They will have injured workers do no actual work, but they require them to be at the job regardless. This is a tactic they and other employers use to try to get employees to quit which will most likely significantly reduce the amount of money that they will eventually owe the employee.
No, we do not believe that this is right, but how you deal with your light duty work assignment can have a huge impact later on in your case. If you quit a light duty job then your employer will always argue that they would have accommodated your permanent work restrictions regardless of what they are which can greatly reduce the amount of compensation you end up with for your work injury.
What Should I Do Now?
Every case is different so if you have questions about the light duty work that you are being offered it is best to talk to a lawyer who is experienced in handling Iowa workers' compensation cases. There are very specific laws and cases that apply so this is definitely not an area where you want to call just any attorney about (unless you do not care if the answer is correct or not).
For more information about Iowa work injuries, request a copy of Iowa work injury book that we offer at no cost or obligation. Our book exposes how you can avoid 7 Common Costly Mistakes, the Injured Workers Bill of Rights and much more. If you have immediate questions feel free to call us at (641) 792-3595. There is no cost or obligation.