Permanent vs. Temporary Light Duty Employment

When returning to the place of employment following a work injury, an injured worker may be placed on restricted job duties and may hear a lot about permanent or temporary light duty work. While the duties performed may be the same, Nevada workers compensation rules provide that there are different requirements and regulations concerning each of these types of job restrictions. While the injured employee is recovering from the work-related injuries, regular appointments with the treating physician allow the doctor to provide progress reports on the employee’s condition in an effort to determine if and when such injured employee can return to regular job duties. Any restrictions given by the doctor are only good for the original employer and do not transfer if the worker switches to another employer. However, because the condition may change over time, it is important that the injured worker keeps up-to-date with the treating doctor, especially if there is a change in jobs.

Difference between Permanent and Temporary Light Duty

According to Nevada workers compensation law, there are differences in the types of employment and job duties offered the injured employee during and after recovery from a work-related accident.

Permanent light duty refers to a job position offered by an employer after the treating physician determines the final work restrictions. The employer has 30 days to make the offer for an alternate position of employment within the company with job duties that can be performed by the injured employee. This new job offer must be made in writing, and must be for a legitimate, lasting position within the company, providing full-time hours, with job duties that are neither degrading nor demeaning to the employee. The employee must have at least 7 days to respond to the job offer, and the treating physician must approve the new job duties.

Temporary light duty refers to restricted job duties that the employee can perform while still receiving treatment and recovering from the work injuries. Nevada workers compensation offers little in the way of rules or employee protection for this type of work. The employee may need to perform mindless tasks or work duties that are embarrassing or demeaning.

Employment job classifications can affect employee wages during temporary job restrictions. If the employee will be able to perform job duties within the same classification as the original position held before the accident, the amount of hourly pay should remain the same. However, if the job duty restrictions place the nature of the job position in a different job classification than that of the original job position held by the employee before the injury, the employer is only obligated to provide the injured employee payment at the rate of 80% of the original job position as provided in NRS 616C.475 (8)(a)(2) of the Nevada workers compensation statutes.

Physician Progress Report

One of the single most important documents that affect a recovering employee’s job duties and employment is the physician progress report, often referred to as the PPR. Each time the injured worker sees the treating physician for any work-related injury, the doctor will provide the employee with a copy of the physician progress report with updates regarding the progress of the condition. At the bottom of this PPR, the doctor will list any temporary work restrictions that are necessary at that time. Following the appointment and before leaving the physician’s office, it is important that the injured employee checks to be sure that the work restrictions have been included in each and every physician progress report received. If the restrictions are not listed, it is important that the employee ask that these restrictions be included in the report. It is then the injured employee’s responsibility to provide the employer with a copy of this physician progress report. When providing a copy to the employer, it is also the injured worker’s responsibility to check to see if the employer will be able to provide temporary light duty job duties based on these restrictions. If the employer cannot make accommodations or does not allow the injured employee to work with restrictions during the recovery period, that employee becomes eligible to receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits through Nevada workers compensation.

Changing Employers and Light Duty Restrictions

When the physician places permanent light duty work restrictions, these restrictions do not follow the injured employee from one job to another. These restrictions are based on the job duties of the original job position held before the worker experienced injuries on the job and are potentially used in an effort to see if the original employer can make accommodations to keep the injured worker employed within the company. If the worker changes jobs to another employer, these permanent work restrictions cannot be transferred to the new employer. Instead, the injured worker must make an appointment to see the treating physician to discuss the new job requirements and work duties that will be performed. The physician will then make a new progress report with recommendations for restrictions of the new job duties required at the new place of employment. Over time, an injured employee’s condition may improve and get better, or the condition may get worse, requiring the need for further restrictions on job duties. The treating physician should not only make note of the new job restrictions, but that there were changes in the injured employee’s condition and exactly what those changes were, for better or for worse.

Legal Assistance for Injured Temporary or Permanent Light Duty Workers

The attorneys with the Morris/Anderson Law Firm have extensive knowledge and experience in working with injured workers receiving Nevada workers compensation benefits. In addition to helping with any necessary paperwork and in the filing of appeals, the attorneys can help an injured worker with physician progress reports and restrictions that affect employment with either the original employer or a new employer. Injuries sustained on the job can change the life of the injured worker, and obtaining assistance for a qualified attorney can mean the difference in receiving adequate compensation and the benefits that are deserved in these situations.

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