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Return to work after pregnancy: Doctor says I'm ready but employer says No

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  • Return to work after pregnancy: Doctor says I'm ready but employer says No

    I live in Michigan.

    I have been off work since September after being put on modified bed rest due to a high risk pregnancy. I am a Paramedic which requires a lot of lifting and I was restricted to lifting no more than 10 pounds. My employer only offers light duty for those with on the job injuries. I have short and long term disability through Prudential; my claim ended on April 1st as that was the end of the standard 6 week post-partum recovery period (I gave birth to a healthy son on February 18th). My doctor has cleared me for work with no restrictions.

    Company policy requires all employees to do a lift test to ensure fitness for duty prior to returning (both new employees and those returning from medical leave). I did the lift test and was told verbally I passed however HR called me this morning and said the paperwork said “unacceptable”. Per policy I am unable to return to work however I can retake the test in 30 days.

    My question is, is this something disability will pay for? I know that being on bed rest often causes significant deconditioning (both cardiovascularly and musculoskeletally) and while I definitely don't feel as strong as I did before getting pregnant, I know it will improve once I am back to work. I feel I can do my job safely and without jeopardizing patient care. I do not feel disabled and I WANT TO WORK. I cannot go another month or more without pay. It's not fair for my employer to have to pay others overtime so my shifts are covered. Should I go to my physician to get a note saying I'm “deconditioned” and need physical therapy so I can get disability? Would this even qualify as a disability? I had no problems lifting before the pregnancy and I don't have any pain or anything like that. The person evaluating the lifting test is not a physician and while I did have difficulty with parts of the test I did complete all portions of the test. Thankfully my employer is beyond AWESOME; I was approved for extended medical leave which gives me a year off without losing my job. I am so incredibly lucky in that regard which makes me feel even worse that this is happening.

    Any advice or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Only your disability carrier can say whether this is covered under their policy or not. It's not a matter of law.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    • #3
      Agree, there's no way we can say whether you would qualify for additional
      disability income. That would be the ins. company's decision based on policy
      provisions....
      Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

      Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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      • #4
        Since you're not medically disabled from working at this point, I seriously doubt the disability insurance carrier will extend benefits. It certainly can't hurt to check it out however. You may well qualify for unemployment benefits however and should apply right away.

        Since your employer is so accommodating, would they consider allowing you to re-take the test sooner than 30 days out?

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