Stephen Hasner | Workers' Compensation | November 21, 2018
A doctor may decide that a patient needs to reduce his or her workload for many different reasons. Common reasons in Savannah include:
- A prescription medication that makes you groggy
- An injury that needs rest and time to heal
- You’re exhibiting symptoms that indicate you’re working too hard
- Chronic pain
While doctors have valid reasons for placing restrictions on their patients’ workload, these restrictions often create issues in the patients’ workplace. While some employers may heed an employee’s recommended medical restrictions without protest, others may push their employees to continue working a full schedule, and some may completely ignore their employee’s doctor’s recommendations entirely.
A common example is an employer demanding that an employee put in weekly overtime, even though the employee has a doctor’s note indicating that he or she needs a lighter workload.
The Legalities of Overtime
A set of complex laws determine the legality of workplace overtime. According to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers generally must pay overtime, amounting to time-and-a-half, if their employees work more than forty hours per week in any given week.
While most people believe that overtime is optional, and that employees have the right to refuse to work overtime, an employer may require overtime under certain conditions. While some businesses offer voluntary overtime to their employees and won’t penalize them for refusing to work the extra time, there are many employers who have mandatory overtime. Under this scenario, if you refuse to put in the extra hours when asked, your employer can legally terminate you from your position.
But what if your doctor has put you on a light workload?
Doctors’ Restrictions and Overtime
If a qualified doctor determines that an employee needs a reduced workload, the employer is legally obligated to comply. However, these situations are often complex. Regardless of the doctor’s recommendation, employees still must be able to perform the basic requirements of their job, and if those basic requirements include routinely working over 40 hours per week, then an employer may refuse to comply with the doctor’s recommendation.
However, even if working overtime is a regular part of your job, you may be protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which the federal government enacted to provide added protection to employees with disabilities. The act mandates that employers give each employee twelve weeks leave for medical issues.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that an employee does not have to take all twelve weeks off at once; you don’t even have to take an entire day off. If your doctor recommends that you lighten your workload, you can do so by taking a few hours off each day until your time off adds up to twelve 40-hour work weeks. Employees should be aware of this added flexibility when considering their options.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Hasner Law
If your doctor has recommended that you lighten your workload, and your employer has refused to comply, contact Hasner Law to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. Call us in Savannah at (912) 234-2334; you can also contact us online.