Calling in Sick on Light Duty: What Is & Isn’t Allowed

Abstract image of sick leave law

Are you in the process of navigating a workers’ compensation claim after suffering a workplace injury in Pennsylvania? Are you currently working a light-duty job? The workers’ compensation lawyers at the Win Big Law Firm are here to provide any answers to any questions you may have regarding your rights while on a light duty status.

Can an Injured Worker Use Sick / Vacation Time While on Light Duty?

An injured worker is permitted to use their vacation or sick time while on light duty. However, using vacation or sick time may cause the workers’ compensation insurance company to become suspicious. If you use vacation or sick time, make sure to refrain from certain physical activities, as your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company may place you under surveillance to ensure you are complying with your light-duty job restrictions.

Seeking Medical Treatment for the Work-Related Injury

Theoretically, you can seek medical treatment for your work injury while on light duty. However, Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law (77 P.S. § 531) requires you to obtain treatment from one of six medical providers approved as a workers’ compensation doctor by your employer for the first 90 days following your injury. If you seek medical care on your own during this 90-day period, your employer’s insurance company may not be obligated to pay for your medical expenses.

Lack of Light-Duty Work

If your employer lacks light-duty work, you are not obligated to return to work. While you may want to return to work, this may work to your advantage. Specifically, you can focus all your energy and efforts on your recovery.

Denied Personal Time Off Concerns

Facing denial when requesting personal time off while working a light-duty or modified job can be frustrating and confusing. If you have accumulated vacation or personal time, you are entitled to use them as they are considered earned benefits. However, your employer’s denial of your request may work to your advantage as it can increase your credibility while also painting your employer in a negative light. 

Can an Employer Use a Workers’ Personal Time to Cover Workers’ Comp Time Off?

No. Employers are not permitted to force injured employees to use their personal time. If your employer forces you to use your personal time, you may be able to buy this time back upon receiving your workers’ compensation benefits.

Must an Employer Offer Light-Duty Work?

Employers in Pennsylvania are not obligated to offer light-duty jobs. However, if an employer does have a light-duty job available, they must offer it to the injured employee. Before being offered light-duty work, you must be medically approved to perform light-duty work and receive a Section 306(b)(3) notice of ability to return to work.

Reasonable Accommodations for Light-Duty Work

If you are required to return to work on a light duty status, your employer must provide reasonable accommodations. Specifically, the job duties must conform with your work restrictions.  Additionally, your employer must provide training for your new position and remove potential physical hazards.

Talk with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney About Your Light Duty Work Concerns

If you have concerns or questions about lost wages, light-duty jobs, and workers’ compensation benefits, consider consulting a professional. Sadly, some employers take advantage of or abuse injured workers on light duty. Contact the Win Big Law Firm for a free consultation with an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer.

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