At times, work-related injuries can be very serious and necessitate that the employee takes some time off from work, though certain injuries are not as serious and do not impact the worker’s job performance. For instance, a worker could end up with a foot injury while at the work place, yet their job only requires the use of the worker’s hands and intellect. Often times, injured employees wonder if they should file a workers’ compensation claim and take time off from work, if they have suffered an injury that doesn’t impact their job duties.
In some cases, employees with work-related injuries that does not impact their job performance will not report their injury to their employer, because they do not see a point in seeking workers’ compensation, or have the assumption that their work-related injury isn’t qualifying due to the fact that it doesn’t affect their ability to perform their job. Instead, these injured employees completely forego a workers’ compensation claim and just seek medical care through their health insurance. Depending on eligibility, these employees should know that they could still seek workers’ compensation medical benefits, even if they do not need to take time off from work.
Getting Injured Workers Back To Work In Texas
Texas is a big advocate of making sure injured workers are able to stay employed in some capacity as they recuperate from work-related injuries, as long as it is possible. Texas strongly suggests that employers take an active approach towards executing Return to Work Programs for injured employees. Return to Work Programs are designed to offer a recovering injured worker an alternative work assignment, or a “light duty” option with a reduced pay rate, as they recuperate from their work-related injury. While a worker is recovering from their work-related injury or sickness, there are many reasons why the worker should stay engaged in their job:
- Getting the injured employee back into the workforce as quickly as possible
- Keeps the injured employee engaged in their work
- Preserves employee morale
- Provides the injured employees with wages
- Diminishes the amount of social benefits (welfare, disability benefits, etc.) that injured employee may have to use during recover; and
- Ensures that the injured worker has taxable income.
Getting Medical Benefits Through Workers’ Compensation
If an injured employee is capable of continuing their job despite a work-related injury or ailment, the employee may not specifically need any kind of income benefits through workers’ comp since the worker is still capable to do their job, or at least an alternative work assignment for wages. But in the event that a work-related injury or sickness doesn’t necessitate that the injured employee take time off of work, this doesn’t mean that getting medical treatment for the injury isn’t making the injured worker spend money out of their own pocket. An injured employee who doesn’t have to take time off of work can still look for workers’ compensation medical benefits to help pay for medical expenses.
If an injured employee is still earning their income, they will not need to apply for income benefits, this way those who need income benefits are still able to apply through the Texas workers’ compensation system. In Texas, injured employees should only take enough time off of work to seek medical help and recover from their work-related injury or sickness. If a worker takes off more time than needed, the worker could risk their employment status, as well as, having their workers’ compensation claim denied.
Injured Workers Should Discuss Their Options With Their Employers
People usually don’t want to be away from their job, due to the fact that they feel helpless and useless if they’re not there. When an employee is injured on the job, but in such a way that they can still work in some capacity, they should discuss situation with their employer. Sometimes all it takes is a conversation between the employee and the employer that will make the employer find ways that the injured employee could still perform their job while recovering. In order to make sure that the employee is still engaged with their work and earning an income while recovering from their injury, the employer can find alternative work assignments or a “light duty” version of the employee’s job.
Typically, a clearing with a designated doctor is required by the boss, to make sure that the injured employee can perform an alternative work assignment or light duty. If the doctor decides that the worker is capable of taking on the alternative assignment without making the injured worker’s injury worse, then the worker may return to work during their recovery period. The injured employee’s situation can then be monitored occasionally to ensure that the worker’s condition allows them to continue working.