Doctor restriction and return to work

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Latest post 08-16-2009 2:51 PM by Ford. 6 replies.
  • 08-15-2009 8:36 AM

    • balmain
      Consumer
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    Doctor restriction and return to work

    Hello,

    I have been of work for more than a year on disability. Presently I am negotiating with my employer to return to work. They have insisted that I have written restrictions that I have provided.

    They have contacted me stating that one of the restriction, they are unable to accommodate and asked me to ask the physician to amend this restriction.

    I thought about this and I am concerned that if the restrictions are changed to suit my employer, then the restriction become meaningless and I will have no protection.

    I do not know the law in GA about doctor's restrictions and how they are enforced. If, they can be enforced. Do I have to change the restriction, or can I stay my ground and insist that this is a necessary restriction?

    Thank you.

  • 08-15-2009 9:53 AM In reply to

    Re: Doctor restriction and return to work

    There are no employment laws in GA regarding Doctor's restrictions. If the restrictions are too burdensome on the employer they are not required to comply and can keep you out until you are able to fully return to your job duties.

    If you have been out of work for a year your FMLA protection has expired and your employer can just as easily legally terminate you at this point as they no longer legally have to hold your job for you.  Disability does NOT protect your job that is a VERY common mistake all that does is provide for a continuation of income.  If your employer has been so generous as to hold your position for you this long in this economy I would seriously consider not "holding your ground" on this if it won't impact your health.  Work very closely with your physician on coming up with something that works before you find yourself out of a job. 

    "That's just my opinion, then again I might be wrong."  Dennis Miller

     

  • 08-15-2009 12:23 PM In reply to

    • balmain
      Consumer
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    • GA
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    Re: Doctor restriction and return to work

    You are absolutely right. My employer has been generous. Do you know if there are any Federal guidelines for restrictions and returning to work?

    I do think that if I change the restriction, it wil affect my health, and my ability to perform at work.

    Thank you for responding.

  • 08-15-2009 12:30 PM In reply to

    Re: Doctor restriction and return to work

    FMLA is the federal guideline and you have already exceeded it.  There are no laws that guide doctors notes other than the ADA and when the restrictions become too cumbersome on the employer then the employer does not have to comply.  As I said before as you have already been out a year I reccommend you find a way to work this out. 

    If you would care to share what this restriction is we might be able to help you here.

    "That's just my opinion, then again I might be wrong."  Dennis Miller

     

  • 08-15-2009 1:26 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
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    • Joined on 01-01-2005
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    Re: Doctor restriction and return to work

    Even with ADA, an employer is not required to provide an accommodation if it is too costly for the business.

    I will leave aside for the moment whether you disability even qualifies for the restriction ADA definition.  For the sake or argument, let's assume that you qualify for ADA protection.

    The question I would ask you is whether this particular restriction prevents you from doing an "essential" function of your job.  For example, if you have a five pound lifting restriction and your job regularly required yu to lift 40 pounds for the majority of the work day, then you have a restriction that may prevent you from performing an "essential" function of your job.  It then boils down to whether there is something the employer can do so that you can perform this work.  The law is not going to require the employer to buy you an expensive device to lift stuff.  Nor is it going to require the employer to assign someone else to do this work or to give you a vastly different job than the one for which you were originally hired to do.

    On the other hand, if you have a similiar restriction but you spend the majority of your work day in a cubicle on the phone or in front of a computer, but once a shift, you have to lift a forty pound box, that particular task may not be "an essential function" of the job.  The employer shoud be able to modify your job to remove this particular task without any adverse business impact.  BTW, smaller employers are exempt from many of these requirements.  It seems like you do work for a larger one.  Nevertheless, I want to menton employer size in case my assumption about the size of your employer is wrong.

    I will be the first to tell you that most of these cases are not quite as "black and white" as the above examples suggest.  I suggest that you decide whether this particular restriction is indeed "a deal breaker" in terms doing the job tht you were doing.  In other words, how often do you perform job related tasks that would violate the restriction as it presently exists?  If the answer is only occasionally, perhaps there is relatively easy way to accommodate it or, after discussion with your doctor, he or she may feel that it would not be inherently risky for you to perform the task in question on an occasional basis.  If the answer is regularly, then you really need to think about whether there is something simple (and inexpensive) that your employer could do that would still allow you to do your job.  Alternatively, you discuss with your physician what the health risks to you might be if you did ask him or her to remove the restriction, assuming that your doctor might be willing to do so.

    There is no easy answer here.  You may have to consider going into a new line of work.  That may mean retraining and/or looking for a different kind of job with a different employer.

     

  • 08-15-2009 1:30 PM In reply to

    • balmain
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    Re: Doctor restriction and return to work

    Thank you for your help. The restriction has to do with two activities that are my job. The doctor has specified a two-hour continuous maximum for each activity. Thus breaking the day into four two-hour sections.

    My employer states that because of the nature of the business, they cannot guarantee the two-hour max. I told them that I am aware of the business and the fact that exactly two-hours might be difficult. I also said that I will be flexible, allowing for the needs of the business.

    They want me to go back to the doctor and have the restriction changed. I do not understand why they insist on the change being in writing by the doctor, when it is non-binding anyway.

    They do not specify what they can guarantee. This would then leave me vulnerable to management keeping me in one activity for more than the two-hours and possibly four or more hours continuously. The two-hours, is more than I am capable of with my disability. But, I have worked with the doctor to incorporate, what I think is fair in dividing my day into the two-hour sections.

    They certainly are willing to work with me. But I am at a max with two-hours. I have been expecting to be terminated since the FMLA expired. I want to work with them also. But, I do want to go back to fail in an effort at a compromise. I want to succeed as best I can.

     

    Thank you.

  • 08-16-2009 2:51 PM In reply to

    Re: Doctor restriction and return to work

    If your doc is telling you two hours max, you don't want to change that because you are jeopardizing your health.  Your job doesn't drive your restrictions - your physical well-being drives the restrictions.

    I think the employer is just trying to protect itself from liability.  You can choose to ignore your doc's restrictions and work whatever you want.

    No laws guarantee employment.  If a person cannot return to work without a reasonable accommodation after FMLA expires, the employer can let them go.

    A doc's restrictions are NEVER binding on an employer.

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