“No work restrictions, no work comp.” Those are the wise words I first heard from my mentor John Person and the words I’ve been relaying to my clients. It sounds so simple, but it’s often an area that generates a lot of conflict between the employee and employer in a workers compensation case. Today’s article will focus on reports of workability and why they are so crucial.
For those who don’t know what a report of workability is, it’s essentially a doctor’s note from your treating physician that lays out what the employee’s work restrictions are. The workability slips will either indicate that the employee is to be completely off work or a set of restrictions such as “no lifting greater than 10 lbs.” or “limited bending/twisting”. The other crucial aspect of workability slips is that they will have an expiration date, often coinciding with the employee’s follow-up visit to the doctor where they will have an opportunity to assess the work restrictions and if they need to be modified.
Reports of workability sound pretty straightforward, but there are common situations where they are at the center of the dispute. First, many doctors are unfamiliar with workers’ compensation procedures and will fail to issue a report of workability at the conclusion of the appointment. If you have an ongoing work comp claim, it is imperative that you do not leave the doctor’s office until you have an active report of workability. If you have a Qualified Rehab Consultant (QRC) assigned to your file, they will help you in making sure a report of workability is issued. If you don’t have a QRC, it’s the employee’s responsibility. I also stress to my clients to make sure to communicate with your physician what your work duties are and what limitations your injury has created. It’s not the physician’s job to inquire as to what your work duties are, so make sure to explain them.
Secondly, these reports of workability must be provided to your employer immediately upon receiving them. In the world of workers compensation, employers are allowed the opportunity to provide accommodating work within the employee’s restrictions to avoid having to pay workers’ compensation wage loss benefits. Failure to provide a report of workability to your employer will put you at risk of having the workers’ compensation carrier discontinue your benefits for that sole reason. I always tell my clients to keep a dialogue with your employer and drop off the report of workability to their supervisor whenever it is received. Once again, if you have a QRC on your file, they will help making sure these work restrictions are relayed to the employer.
Lastly, it is imperative that the injured worker not let their work restrictions lapse. Unless the injured worker has permanent work restrictions, they must constantly be updated until they become permanent or the physician releases the employer to work without restrictions. Pay attention to the workability expiration date and make sure to have an appointment scheduled prior to the expiration.
Please send any request for topic suggestions to email@example.com. Although we cannot give you legal advice through the column, we can provide some general information that may be helpful for you to know. Our purpose is to educate and we hope that you can take something new away from this column each time you read it.