When you are injured on the job, you may find yourself facing new and potentially confusing situations as you navigate the workers’ compensation program. Your rights and responsibilities may not be clear. One question injured workers often ask is: Can you work while on workers’ comp in California? Failing to strictly follow workers’ compensation rules and guidelines could jeopardize your benefits or potentially place you in legal trouble.

Work Restrictions Basics

As you file your workers’ compensation claim and go through the claim process, it is important to understand how work restrictions work. One of the first steps in the claims process involves undergoing an injury examination. During your examination, a physician will determine the extent of the injuries and document descriptions of your symptoms.

Once the physician has the information they need. They will provide you with work restrictions. These restrictions are for your protection and to ensure that you properly recover from your injuries or treatments. Examples of work restrictions include instructions to:

  • Not to lift anything over a specified weight.
  • Not to leave your body in certain positions for long periods of time.
  • To work only a few hours per day.
  • Not to work at all for a period of time.

If your work restrictions include directives to limit work hours or refrain from working altogether, you will be eligible for temporary disability payments. These partially make up for lost wages as you recover from home or reduce the number of hours that you work.

Can you work while on workers comp in California?

What If I Work Multiple Jobs?

In today’s economy, many people work multiple jobs in order to make a living. Each of your jobs must honor work restrictions given by your physician. If one of your employers refuses to honor the work restrictions that may require special accommodations, you can work with a workers’ compensation lawyer to protect your rights. In some cases, a job may not be able to accommodate the restrictions given by your doctor for legitimate reasons.

If you are unable to work either job, you can use the combined wages of both your jobs when determining your temporary disability wages. Temporary disability payments generally pay two-thirds of your normal total wages. Disability benefits are not taxable in most cases.

Types of Work You May Be Able to Perform While on Disability

As long as you stay within the physician’s recommended restrictions, you can perform light or modified work while you are on workers’ compensation. It is important to remember that deviating from your physician’s guidelines could jeopardize your benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits will not dictate how many hours you can work. That is determined by your doctor, who provides medical advice in your best interest.

It may be tempting to find a new job while you are receiving benefits, but doing anything that violates your doctor’s work restrictions could jeopardize your benefits. If you do not report new sources of income, you could find yourself facing allegations of fraud. Workers’ compensation is designed to help employees who are unable to complete their normal duties. Taking on a second job could create the appearance that you no longer need workers’ compensation benefits.

If you already have a second job and the second job is not physically demanding, your doctor may decide that you can continue working there. As long as you follow your physician’s guidelines and are open and transparent about where you work, you should be fine.

If you have questions about your benefits or need legal help compelling an insurance provider to pay for benefits that you qualify for, contact a Cathedral City workers’ compensation attorney who has experience helping clients receive compensation through their employer’s workers’ compensation program.


Q: Can You Get Another Job While on Workers’ Comp?

A: You can get another job while on workers’ comp, but there are factors to consider. Taking on a new job, especially one that is physically demanding, could give the appearance that you have healed and do not need workers’ compensation. Any work-related tasks that you perform that go against your physician’s recommended work restrictions could potentially void your eligibility for workers’ compensation.

Q: Does My Employer Have to Hold My Job While I’m on Workers’ Comp?

A: No, your employer does not have to hold your job while you are on workers’ comp. California is an at-will state when it comes to employment. This means your boss can terminate you at any time that doesn’t violate state and federal employment laws.

While your boss has the freedom to terminate any employee, they cannot retaliate against you for seeking workers’ compensation benefits. If you believe that your employer terminated you because you sought compensation for your work-related injury, you may have grounds for pursuing a wrongful termination case.

Q: Can You Be Laid Off While on Workers’ Comp?

A: Yes, you can be laid off while on workers’ comp in the state. Receiving workers’ compensation benefits does not provide you with special protections from economic downturns and other business challenges that can lead to layoffs for you and your co-workers.

If your employer has to eliminate your position due to legitimate reasons, they can do so, even while you are on temporary or permanent disability leave. Your employer cannot lay you off solely because you are on disability. Doing so would be seen as unlawful retaliation.

Q: How Long Can an Employee Be on Workers’ Compensation?

A: An employee can be on workers’ compensation in California as long as their physician believes it is medically necessary. Most workers recover and are able to return to work well within the two-year benefits window for workers on temporary disability. Certain medical conditions may extend the two-year limit. A worker on permanent disability could potentially receive benefits for a lifetime.

Schedule Your Cathedral City Workers’ Compensation Consultation

If you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, it is wise to listen to your doctor and listen to your body. Taking time to heal allows you to return to work as a productive and healthy employee.

If you require help navigating the state’s complicated workers’ compensation program, the law office of English Lloyd & Armenta is here to help. We have more than 30 years of experience helping clients receive needed benefits from their employer after a work-related injury. To schedule your consultation, contact our office today.