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Does an employer have to offer light duty work?

Picture of an office for light duty work

What is light duty work? 

The term light duty work generally refers to less physically or mentally strenuous work than a workers’ standard responsibilities. Typically, a light duty job is short-term until the injured worker has fully recovered or receives a permanent position that aligns with their medical regulations.

Employer qualifications for Stay at Work 

There is no mandatory requirement for employers to create a light duty job for you in the event of a workplace injury. According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, the Stay at Work Program will reimburse employers for a portion of the costs if they provide temporary, light duty jobs for their employees. 

If you’re an employer enrolled in the program, up to 50% of the injured employee’s wages are covered until they reach $10,000 or 66 workdays. Employers often want to apply for this program to lower the costs of a claim (employers pay premiums based on the history of their claims – like how your car insurance rates go up or down depending on your driving history). This is good news for employers, but not always the best news for employees. 

Red flags to be aware of with Stay at Work 

Unfortunately, some employers may not be as accommodating to your needs in the event of a workplace injury. Here are a few red flags to look out for when you’re going through the process of responding to a light duty job offer. 

  • The light duty job offer doesn’t follow your medical restrictions.
  • Your working hours are severely cut down.
  • The light duty work you’re given is “busy work” that serves no purpose. 
  • You’re given a job you are not qualified for or adequately trained to perform. (They may be hoping you quit or have grounds to fire you.) 

Workers’ compensation lawyers of Eastern Washington 

Fighting for your rights after a workplace accident can get heavy. (Pun intended.) Carlisle + Byers advocates for you through everything from workers’ compensation cases to obtaining light duty work and necessary medical care. If you’re looking for more information on light duty jobs and the Stay at Work Program, check out our blog on navigating light duty job offers.