If you’ve been injured at work, you may not be able to return to your regular job right away. A doctor may tell you that you can only do light-duty work, or work that is different from your regular job that you can do while partially disabled. Your doctor will let you know what your restrictions are. If you usually lift up to fifty (50) pounds for your job and you are limited to lifting no more than 10 (10) pounds while you are healing, for example, you are on a light-duty restriction. Besides what you can lift, other types of restrictions may include how much you are allowed to walk, stand, sit, operate machinery, and more.
The Virginia Workers Compensation Commission requires you to“market” yourself, or try to find a job that you can do while you are on light duty. Your regular employer may have a job you can do while you are on light duty, but it’s not guaranteed. You’ll need to follow the Commission’s guidelines for marketing yourself for light-duty work in order to get the benefits you are qualified for.
Guidelines for Looking for Light-Duty Work
The Commission requires that you make a “good faith” search for work: you are regularly and actively looking for positions that you are qualified for and are able to do.
The Commission expects you to be registered with the Virginia Employment Commission soon after you are released to be able to do your light-duty work. Also, the Commission expects you to contact at least five(5) companies each week where you think you may be able to find a job.
You will need to keep a log of which companies you contacted/applied to, including the name of the company, their address, the date or dates the contact was made, how you contacted them (in person, by phone, online), and what happened when you contacted them (did not hear back after a conversation, invited for an interview, etc.).
If you’re still able to do some work using the skills or experience you developed before your injury, you can look for jobs using those skills or experience. But if your job search is not successful, you will need to expand your criteria and look for positions outside of your specialized skills or experience.
You should contact employers using the method that is most common and reasonable for the job you are looking for. For some jobs, this may be via a union, or by asking in person. In other jobs, it may be via phone or applying online.
If you find a job that pays a great deal less than the job you had before your injury, you should continue looking for work that will pay more.
All of the language from the Commission has words such as“reasonably” – every person has a different mix of job experience, skills, and what their duty restrictions are, and some people may have a much broader pool of potential jobs than other people. Your HammondTownsend lawyer can help you if you have questions about making sure you remain eligible for your benefits.