Sometimes, a work injury or a diagnosis of a job-acquired medical condition will create tension between an employee and the company where they work. For example, an employee may claim that their injury was caused by job-related concerns, but the company may deny that and try to claim that the worker got hurt on their own time.
However, if there is one thing that employers and workers often agree on, it is that it is best for someone to come back to work as soon as possible. Although Iowa workers’ compensation benefits provide disability benefits, what a worker receives is at most two-thirds of their usual paycheck and often less than that if they are ordinarily well compensated. Additionally, research shows in general that the longer someone is away from work, the less likely they are to re-enter the workforce fully. As a result, workers are often particularly concerned about when they can return to earning their full paycheck.
When their employer can accommodate them
Sometimes, employers are able to work with an injured employee from the very first day after their diagnosis. The company could move someone to a different position temporarily, provide assistive technology or even allow someone to work from home. Other times, the worker may need to improve to a specific point to return to work before their recovery is complete. So long as someone can perform their job responsibilities with reasonable accommodations, they may be able to return to their job while still receiving treatment.
When they fully recover
For someone working in an industrial profession who breaks a bone, fulfilling job responsibilities may not be possible until after their body heals and they undergo appropriate physical or occupational therapy. Someone may need to have a doctor sign off on their claim that they have fully recovered before they can just come to their job after an injury.
When they reach maximum medical improvement
Unfortunately for some people hurt on the job, a full recovery isn’t always possible. There are some situations in which individuals will always have lingering symptoms and will cease responding to treatment efforts. If a doctor determines that someone is unlikely to respond to additional treatment efforts, they will declare that they have achieved maximum medical improvement (MMI). That may reduce what medical coverage they can receive and will likely speed up the timeline for their return to work. In some cases, workers ordered back to their jobs may require support when they challenge that assertion or when they request accommodations from their employers.
Understanding the rules that govern return-to-work matters in Iowa may benefit those unable to work because of an injury. Seeking legal guidance is always a good option if an injured worker has questions about their rights and options.