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Returning to work after a workplace injury or illness

As part of a workers' compensation claim, it is common for workers to take a leave of absence from work as they recover from the illness or injury. According to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, in order to be eligible for temporary disability benefits under workers' compensation, the injury or illness must keep an individual out for at least seven days. This count need not be a consecutive number of days and includes holidays and weekends.

For those who have a less severe injury or illness, returning to work will not be an issue. However, many find issues as they return to work while still recovering from an injury or illness. In some cases, a doctor might clear a person to light duty work rather than their full workload. If an employer is unable to provide work that fits within the medical clearance, then the employee is entitled to temporary disability befits until the individual fully heals or reaches the maximum possible point of recovery. The individual must continue to receive medical care from an authorized professional for this to happen.

A person's job is protected when claiming workers' compensation, as long as any termination is directly related to the claim or related to a disabling condition that is a result of the injury or illness that occurred.

According to the Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy, there are a few adjustments that employers must make for employees who have become unexpectedly disabled or had an illness, such as after an accident at work. States have an agency known as vocational rehabilitation that assists with equipping workspaces or retraining disabled employees so that they can continue to work in their current position or learn a new one. By law, employers must provide reasonable accommodation to support a person with a disability or medical condition so that a person can continue to work. This might include modified work schedules, special equipment, or time for medical appointments. 

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