Even though employees are an employer's most valuable asset, when it comes to work-related injuries, an employer's best interests can sometimes be at odds with an employee's best interests. On-the-job injuries can lead to higher insurance premiums, which isn't ideal for employers. Unfortunately, returning to work too quickly after an injury isn't good for employees.
Though an employer may mean well by asking an employee to come back to work sooner rather than later after an injury, employees should always resist the urge to comply. Here are just four reasons why returning to work too quickly after an injury is a bad idea:
1. You could miss out on your full benefits.
Under Georgia law, you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits for catastrophic and non-catastrophic injuries. These benefits can be used to pay for lost wages, medical and rehabilitation expenses. If you return to your previous job before you are cleared to return to work, you may miss out on the full benefits allowed under the law.
2. You may not be ready to return to work.
Even seemingly minor injuries take time to heal - even more time than you realize. If you return to work too quickly and fail to get clearance from a physician, you might learn the hard way that you are no longer able to perform your job duties. This could cause you to underperform, which could be grounds for termination.
3. You could make your injury worse or reinjure yourself.
If you try to resume your previous job without getting clearance from your doctor, you could risk making your injury worse or reinjure yourself. This could lead to more time away from work and the need to file another workers' compensation claim.
4. Your prescription medication could impair your ability to work.
In cases of serious injury, opiate pain killers may be prescribed, which can cause drowsiness, dizziness and other impairments. This can be incredibly dangerous if an injured employee works around forklifts, heavy machinery or in particularly dangerous occupations. An employee impaired by prescription medication could be seriously or fatally injured as could other colleagues.
Know your rights and take your time getting back to work
Only a doctor or medical professional can tell you whether you are ready to return to work after suffering a work-related injury. Returning to work too soon can have disastrous consequences in some cases, which is why it's important to know your rights and to speak with an attorney if you feel your rights have been violated.