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Workers Compensation: “Will I Be Able To Go Back to My Old Job?”

It can happen to you. It is also a possibility for your employee. Whichever designation you occupy in your organization, work-related injuries are always around the corner. If you work in hazardous industries like healthcare and machine operation, the possibility becomes even more significant. Minnesota has workers’ compensation for this reason.

Employers and employees can benefit from workmans comp in Minnesota. Workmans comp protects employers and employees financially in the event of a work-related injury. Following the injury, an employer or employee in the state can receive compensation for:

  • Medical treatment
  • Rehabilitative training or retraining
  • Wage-loss benefits, particularly for employees

Much has been said about what transpires following a work-related injury. However, one question is always asked after employees receive their compensation and achieve a degree of recovery:

“Will I be able to go back to my old job?”

The quick answer to this question is “yes”. The state of Minnesota protects the rights and prerogatives of employees to return to their old jobs after they have recovered. However, you as the employer need to be clear about certain details.

In this article, we will address the nuances of your employee’s return and more.

What It Means To Go Back to Your Old Job’ in Minnesota

To answer the question in greater detail and accuracy, we need to be clear on what it means for an employee to go back to his or her old job. In Minnesota, injured employees can resume work after they complete treatment under the approval of a physician and the lifting of work restrictions.

Returning to work can be taken to mean two things in Minnesota. First, returning to one’s old job can mean the simple act of resuming work. When your employee communicates a desire to resume work, you are required by law to allow the employee to come back. Of course, you also need to coordinate with the physician to see how well the employee recovered.

There is another interpretation of going back to one’s old job. It can also be interpreted as the employee returning to what he or she did for the company before the injury. Under this interpretation, you can allow the employee to resume his or her duties before the injury. However, there is a caveat.

Your decision needs to depend on an employee’s maximum medical improvement (MMI). If the treatment resulted in the full restoration of your employee’s abilities, then there is no reason to prevent him or her from going back to a pre-injury designation.

On the other hand, an MMI that is less than 100% may prevent your employee from performing the same way he or she did before. For this reason, you may want to assign a different designation or the same pre-injury one but with assistance or limitations.

Does the Employee Need To Be 100% Recovered To Be Allowed To Work?

One of the most common misconceptions about workers going back to their old jobs involves the percentage of recovery. More specifically, it has long been thought that an employee should be free from all remnants of a work-related injury to go back to work. This is simply not true.

Bear in mind that physicians in Minnesota tasked with treating and assessing your employees offer results or findings. These findings are ratings. These ratings are what they assign injured employees from the beginning of treatment to the end of it.

One such report is the permanency rating. The permanency rating determines the severity of an injury. Also, it indicates the degree of permanence of an injury. The permanency rating gives you, the employer, and the physician a picture of how much of your employee’s abilities can be restored with treatment.

Once treatment is completed, the attending physician determines the maximum medical improvement of the injured employee. The maximum medical improvement or MMI indicates the restoration of your employee’s abilities. The MMI represents the full extent of the injured employee’s recovery.

In some cases, MMI can be at 100% at the time treatment finishes. However, in most cases, the MMI is likely to be below 100% owing to the severity of injuries. Also, some injuries like the loss of a limb or an impairment in sensory capabilities are permanent.

Nonetheless, an MMI of less than 100% does not bar an employee from returning to work. Of course, as mentioned earlier, there is a possibility that an employee may not be able to resume the exact job he or she had pre-injury.

What You Can Do as an Employer To Facilitate Your Employee’s Return to Work

Your fully recovered employee can resume his or her duties as soon as the physician provides the MMI and the necessary clearance. However, if your employee has permanent injuries or impairments, here are some things you can do to accommodate him or her:

Assign Lighter Work

An employee coming off an injury will have physical and occupational limitations. This is why you may want to consider delegating lighter duties to the employee. The new responsibilities need to be manageable to the employee given their occupational impairments.

Delegate Work in More Than One Department or Area

A permanent injury can impair an employee if work is concentrated in one area of your organization. You can maximize the employee’s productivity within your company by assigning a combination of tasks in more than one department.

Offer Opportunities for Skills Training

Impairment or partial disability does not need to hinder your employee’s ability to contribute to your organization. After taking stock of the capabilities your employee still has, you can offer training.

Skills training alongside your awareness of your employee’s abilities can allow your employee to work again despite his or her impairment.

Workmans Comp in Minnesota Is a Step to Gaining Back Your Employee

Regardless of what injuries employees sustain, they can always come back to work following recovery. As an employer in Minnesota, you need to ensure that the return of a recovered employee is seamless.

Employees can come back to their old jobs as long as they are able. If not, it is the responsibility of business owners to allow them to return to working albeit within the limits of their impairments.

If you have questions about what you as an employer can do for employees after workmans comp in Minnesota, call us now at Osterbauer Law.


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