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Employee hurt outside of work California

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  • Employee hurt outside of work California

    Good morning, all! I have an employee who informed us this morning that he thinks he broke his foot at the gym. He felt good enough to show up to work today, but is noticeably favoring the injured foot. He says that he wants to keep working and does not want to go to the doctor. Are we within our rights to require him to see a doctor and get cleared for work? I feel that since we are now aware of the injury, we could be held responsible if his condition should worsen. We're a small (3 employee) electrical company so there is no light duty or non-physical work for him to do at this time. Thanks in advance for any insight!

  • #2
    Does his job require him to be on his feet? If not, I'd encourage him to get it looked at purely for human compassion reasons but not insist it be done right now. If the injured foot impacts his ability to do the job, send him home until he brings a not clearing him to return or he is able to work unimpeded. If there is a modification which would allow him to work without the increased risk of injury, offer it. It is no different than an employee who shows up with the flu.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


    • #3
      Sometimes a walking cast/boot + possibly light painkillers (for few days) will make a world of difference work-wise. Employee needs to see a doc for this. (I once broke my ankle and I couldn't do anything 'til I had a cast and boot - and then I could do all sorts of things including walking and standing as long as I needed to. Had to elevate my ankle every three or four hours for five minutes or so to get the swelling down, but that was the only accommodation I needed.)


      • #4
        You might want to talk to your WC carrier. I have been told in the past that they want to be told about ALL injuries including non work related and that they want to be the party who gets to decide what is and is not important. If a year from now the employee decides this was work related after all, your life just got nu-necessarily interesting.
        "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
        Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


        • #5
          As a practical matter, that is not a great idea unless there is reason to believe it did happen at work. You do not want your carrier taking into account non-work related injuries and wasting time on things which are clearly not their responsibility. I would also not be sharing medical information with the carrier when they have no need to know and it is not their claim, per ADA. If you send it to the carrier, they will likely send a denial letter to cover themselves (or at least should) and that can actually encourage an employee who otherwise would not go down that road, to do so. The carrier isn't going to be able to get information from the doctor with a claim having been filed anyway, so all they know is that Bob at Acme has a broken foot, but are unable to access the medicals to see if Bob told the doctor it happened at work or not.

          I have had numerous after-the-fact claims over the years. Those with merit you are on the hook for no matter what, and it is not difficult to shut down any without.
          I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


          • #6
            I agree with the others-if his job requires him to be on his feet at all beyond normal office work, you can and should insist that he bring a note from a doctor before he returns to work. Further, you should send him with a description of his work that describes the physical requirements of his job specifically (i.e. must stand X hours continuously, must be walking/moving X% of the time, etc.) and insist that he shows it the doctor, so they know what they are signing off on. Doesn't do any good if he's a warehouse worker on his feet all day, but the doctor assumes he's an office worker sitting in a chair.


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