Light duty

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:36 pm
Light duty refers to any temporary or permanent work that's physically or mentally less demanding than normal job duties. Companies oftentimes offer injured employees light duty jobs to encourage them to return to work or to compensate them for being injured on the job. The arrangement usually ends when the employee recovers fully from his or her injury. Employers generally aren't legally obligated to create light-duty positions for workers not injured on the job, but they may be required to do so in instances where an employee's rights are protected under the Americans with Disability Act, or ADA. For example, if it doesn't cause undue hardship, a company may be forced under ADA guidelines to offer a light-duty position to an employee as a reasonable accommodation for his or her disability. The light-duty job may be pre-existing or it may be created. In most cases, an employer must also make the same efforts to find work with manageable physical demands for pregnant employees as it does for employees with the same physical limitations resulting from work-related injuries. The easiest way companies can avoid liability is to offer light-duty work consistently and fairly to all employees. If an employer allows certain disabled employees to work in light-duty jobs longer than others, the inequity can support a claim of discriminatory treatment. Companies should work with employees' physicians to identify appropriate light-duty work and enable employees to return to their full-duty work as soon as possible. Under the worker's compensation law, employees who refuse to accept light duty work risk the loss of some or all of their worker's compensation benefits.

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