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If you are no longer working due to COVID-19, you might be entitled to workers compensation benefits.

Can you refuse light-duty work when you’re on workers’ compensation in Minnesota?

You were injured at work, and it kept you pretty much confined to home for a few days. Now, you’re doing better, but you certainly aren’t back up to full speed.

Just the same, your employer has offered you a “light-duty” position. Since you aren’t totally healed and the reduced hours or duties mean a reduction in pay, it seems reasonable that you should be allowed to stay on temporary total disability (TTD) until you’re completely recovered, right?

Unfortunately, you don’t have that option in Minnesota. Under the rules for workers’ compensation, “refusing an offer of gainful employment” will generally cause you to lose your TTD benefits entirely, including the medical care you’re receiving for your injuries. You also lose any cash benefits you may be due that could pay you the difference between what you’re earning now and the TTD benefits you would otherwise receive.

There are some exceptions to this rule, however. If your employer doesn’t adhere to the restrictions your doctor has specified, you’re not required to accept the light-duty assignment. For example, if “light-duty” to your employer means that you should still be able to stand for six hours at a time but your doctor requires you to stand no more than an hour at a time, you wouldn’t be obligated to take the work.

What if your doctor is unclear about your restrictions? What if your employer simply refuses to comply with them? Or you think your doctor is more concerned about easing the workers’ comp burden on your employer than your health? In those situations, it may be wise to speak with an experienced legal advocate about your situation.