Physicians may release Nevada workers to return to their jobs after their occupational injuries or illnesses have improved. However, when and how they make the transition back to work could impact people’s continued recovery, as well as their workers’ compensation benefits.
Nevada’s Early Return to Work Program
Nevada has established an early return to work program to aid workers injured on the job and limit workers’ compensation costs. The state’s program requires injured workers to return to work as soon as possible following an accident. Should they still have limitations for which their physicians place restrictions on their activities, injured workers’ employers may have to provide alternative modified work or special projects.
Providing Modified Duty Work
Employers are required to make the necessary reasonable accommodations to suit any restrictions for injured workers as they return to work. For example, this may include providing supplemental tasks or combining a series of supplemental tasks to fill employees’ allowed work time, temporarily altering injured workers’ key tasks and functions, or limiting employees’ allowed work hours. Employees remain in their regular positions and job classifications, thereby receiving their regular wages unless their work restrictions force them to work only part-time. In such cases, they may continue to receive supplemental wage replacement.
While many employers have transition programs in place to help injured workers return to the job, others may be less than accommodating. Workers must keep in mind, however, that this does not necessarily give them cause to refuse to go back to work or to leave their jobs and retain their benefits. If a modified duty position does not work out due to factors not associated with their medical conditions, it may result in the discontinuance of injured employees’ workers’ compensation benefits.
Permanent Disability and Returning to Work
Should worker injuries result in permanent disability, Nevada’s workers’ compensation program requires employers to make efforts to place disabled employees in jobs that suit their qualifications and physical limitations. In some cases, workers’ maximum level of improvement may leave them with permanent physical impairments that prevent them from performing the essential duties of the positions they held prior to their work-related injuries. Should employers be unable to accommodate their restrictions, they may work with risk management and state personnel to help workers find appropriate employment elsewhere.