While an employee is recovering from a workplace injury, a doctor may determine that he or she cannot safely perform the former job duties. However, that is not to say that the person is unable to work at all. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, when employees go back to work under medically acceptable conditions as soon as possible, they are less likely to suffer from depression or develop further issues that can hinder recovery.
The TDI explains that many employers have return-to-work programs. A doctor evaluates the employee’s medical condition and determines which functions he or she may be able to do without causing any safety issues or health problems, then communicates the limitations and abilities to the company. The employer can then either allow the worker to do his or her job duties that fall within the description, or may offer the worker a different job during recovery. This is known as a bona fide offer of employment.
An employee’s medical benefits are not affected at all by participating in a return-to-work program, and accepting the job offer does not necessarily mean the employee no longer gets temporary income benefits. These may still be available for as long as the worker is disabled but has not been classified as reaching the maximum medical improvement by the doctor. However, the amount of the income benefits may be adjusted based on the current earnings. If the worker becomes unable to continue in the program, he or she may be eligible to return to receiving the full amount of the temporary income benefits.