Light duty and modified work in Nevada workers’ compensation

Light work or modified duty is work offered by the employer that allows an injured worker to continue working even with an injury. The light or modified duty is based on a worker's physical restrictions given by his or her doctor.

Light duty or modified work can apply to a temporary situation while an employee is being treated for an injury or to a permanent situation once an injury has stabilized.

When an employee cannot work his or her regular job while being treated for an injury, his or her employer can offer the employee light duty or modified work.

If the employer does not have any alternate work for the employee, he or she is entitled to temporary disability for lost wages.

The light or modified duty must be substantially similar to the employee's:

  • regular position
  • location of work
  • hours of employment
  • wages
  • benefits1

An employee who has completed treatment and whose condition has stabilized can be offered permanent modified work. If an employer does not have permanent modified work, the employee may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation.

The employer must offer work:

  • within the restrictions provided by the injured worker's doctor
  • that is at least 80% of the prior wage
  • that provides the same benefits2

In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada workplace injury attorneys will explain:

man working on computer
Light work or modified duty is work offered by the employer that allows an injured worker to continue working even with an injury.

1. What is light duty or modified work?

Light duty or modified work refers to work that an injured worker is able to do that is within the restrictions given by his or her doctor. The phrases may be used interchangeably.

It may be offered to workers in any profession, including police officers and firefighters and any worker with an occupational illness.

Example: Joan works as a set designer. She injures her shoulder at work. She is restricted by her doctor from raising her right arm above shoulder level, something she would normally have to do at work.

Her employer says it has modified work for Joan where she will not have to lift her right arm.

2. When does light duty or modified work apply?

Light or modified duty can apply to temporary work or permanent work in Nevada. An employee may require temporary work restrictions during the time he or she is being treated for an injury. An employee may also require permanent work restrictions once his or her condition has stabilized.

In either case, the employer can offer light work or modified duty within the restrictions.

An employer that offers work can avoid having to pay temporary disability benefits for lost wages or vocational rehabilitation benefits once the employee's condition has stabilized.

An injured worker must first file a claim for Nevada workers' compensation benefits. The light duty or modified work has no effect on the permanent disability an injured worker can receive after his or her claim is settled.

3. Temporary modified or light duty

If an employee cannot work while being treated for an injury, he or she may be entitled to lost wages in the form of a temporary disability. Temporary disability benefits amount to two-thirds of the lost wages during the period the employee cannot work due to the injury.

However, an employer may offer the injured worker light or modified duty instead of paying temporary disability.3

The employer can make a verbal offer but must make a written offer within ten days.4

The light or modified duty is based on the report of the treating doctor or chiropractor that states the physical limitations or restrictions on the injured worker.5

The light or modified duty must be substantially similar to the employee's:

  • regular position
  • location of work
  • hours of employment
  • wage
  • benefits6

Example: Jean works as a waitress and injures her left wrist at work. Jean's doctor says she cannot lift anything with her left hand.

Jean's employer modifies her work, so she does not have to carry anything in her left hand. It is at the same location, at the same pay level, with the same benefits, and with similar hours.

An injured worker does not have to accept light duty. But by declining the light or modified duty, the injured worker will not get temporary disability.

Example: James is a valet, and he injures his back at work. He is restricted from standing more than 15 minutes per hour. He cannot do his regular job because it requires him to stand for at least 30 minutes per hour.

He is offered modified work sitting and collecting tickets.

James declines this offer. James will not receive temporary disability while he is not working.

The light duty or modified work must end within thirty days of the employee's condition becoming stable.7

offer of light duty work for injured worker
An employee that has permanent restrictions can be offered modified work, or he or she will be entitled to vocational rehabilitation in Nevada.

4. Permanent modified or light duty

An employee that has permanent restrictions can be offered modified work, or he or she will be entitled to vocational rehabilitation in Nevada.8

The treating doctor or chiropractor determines the that the injured worker can return to work but has restrictions.9 This information is given to the insurance company and includes:

  • the medical findings on which the determination is based
  • a detailed description of the restrictions10

The employer must offer work:

  • within the restrictions
  • at least 80% of the prior wage
  • with the same benefits11

If not, the injured worker is entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits.

The offer will not be valid if:

  • the work offered is demeaning or degrading
  • there is no prospect of continued employment
  • the employee has accepted the offer but has been dismissed for other reasons
  • the employee has already started a vocational rehabilitation program12

The employer can also avoid paying vocational rehabilitation benefits if the injured worker is offered modified work somewhere else that is within the medical restrictions.13

5. Offer of work

An offer of permanent modified work in Nevada workers' compensation must:

  • be in writing
  • be mailed to the insurer and injured worker
  • state:
    • wages
    • hours
    • physical requirements of work
    • job duties
    • fringe benefits
    • location of employment14

Example: Teresa's condition has stabilized. She works as a dealer in a casino.

Her employer makes a written offer of work, stating that she will be paid $21 an hour as a roulette dealer. This is 90% of her prior wage. She is offered the same hours, work at the same location, and the new position is within her work restrictions.

The offer is sent to Teresa and to the insurance company.

The injured worker has seven days to accept or reject the offer15

If the work offered by the employer is not within the restrictions given by the doctor, the insurance company can offer the worker vocational rehabilitation.

An employee who declines permanent modified work may not receive vocational rehabilitation services.

6. Opportunity for an employer to keep an employee

Light and modified work gives a Nevada employer the chance to keep an employee on the job, both temporarily and permanently.

The option of an injured worker being offered light or modified work depends on the restriction given by his or her doctor and the type of work the employer has available.

An injured worker should be aware of the possibility of continuing to work while having a work injury and the consequences of accepting or denying the work.

Call us for help...

Nevada workers compensation attorneys
Call us at 702-DEFENSE

If you or someone you care about was injured at work in Nevada, our Las Vegas workers' compensation attorneys may be able to get you compensation. (If your case is in California, please see our page on light or modified duty in California workers compensation cases.)

For a free consultation to discuss your case simply fill out the form below or call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).

Legal References:

  1. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.475(8)

  2. Nev. Rev. Code § 616C.590(1)(b)

  3. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.475

  4. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.475(8)

  5. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.475(7)

  6. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.475(8)

  7. Nev. Admin. Code § 616C.583(7)

  8. Nev. Rev. Code § 616C.590

  9. Nev. Rev. Code § 616C.590(1)(a)

  10. Nev. Rev. Code § 616C.590(2)

  11. Nev. Rev. Code § 616C.590(1)(b)

  12. Nev. Admin. Code § 616C.586(2)

  13. Nev. Admin. Code § 616C.586(10

  14. Nev. Admin. Code § 616C.583

  15. Nev. Admin. Code § 616C.583(3)

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