If an employee has been placed off work by a physician, can that employee come back to work sooner than the doctor allowed?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If an employee has been placed off work by a physician, can that employee come back to work sooner than the doctor allowed?

An employee hurt his leg in a skiing accident, he went to urgent care, they completed an x-ray and sent the x-ray to a orthopedic doctor who says there is a fracture, but he ordered an MRI which will not take place until next week. The urgent care doctor issued an off work order for on week. The employee wants to come back to work after 3 days. Should we allow that?

Asked on January 23, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You legally could allow it, but probably should not--not until there is some medical clearance. If he comes back to work early and exacerbates his injury or otherwise hurts himself, there are circumstances under which you could be sued or he could make a worker's compensation claim. Since he received a "don't work" medical order, let him get a medical clearance before returning, to protect yourselves.

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