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How Many Hours Can You Work on Light Duty In NYC?

by | Mar 27, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

When recovering from a work-related injury, transitioning back to the workplace can be a challenging phase for many employees. New York City’s approach to “light duty” work allows injured workers to ease back into their roles without aggravating their condition. But, how does this translate into actual work hours, and what are your rights? Katz Leidman Freund & Herman is here to provide clarity and guidance on the common question, “how many hours can you work on light duty in NYC?”

What is Considered Light Work Duties While on Workers’ Comp?

How Many Hours Can You Work on Light Duty In NYC?

Light work duties, often referred to as “light duty” or “modified work,” are tasks assigned to employees who are recovering from a work-related injury or illness and cannot perform their regular job duties. These assignments are designed to accommodate the employee’s physical or medical restrictions, allowing them to work in a reduced or altered capacity.

Examples of Specific Light Duty Work Restrictions

Light duty work is designed not only to keep employees engaged in the workforce but also to respect their physical capabilities as they heal. Here’s a closer look at the expanded types of light duty work:

1. Administrative or Clerical Work

This category includes tasks that are generally sedentary and require minimal physical exertion, such as:

  • Data entry and management.
  • Handling correspondence, including emails and letters.
  • Assisting with payroll or accounting tasks.
  • Organizing files and managing inventory databases.

2. Customer Service Roles

Employees may be reassigned to positions where they can assist customers through less physically demanding means, such as:

  • Working at information desks or customer service counters.
  • Handling customer inquiries via phone or online chat support.
  • Processing orders or returns.

3. Supervisory or Monitoring Duties

For those who previously performed manual labor, a temporary shift to supervisory roles can be beneficial, including:

  • Overseeing the work of other employees without engaging in physical tasks.
  • Monitoring safety protocols and ensuring compliance with workplace regulations.
  • Providing training or mentorship to new employees.

4. Workplace Modifications

Adjusting the physical workplace or the way tasks are performed can create suitable light duty opportunities, such as:

  • Using ergonomic tools or equipment to reduce strain.
  • Implementing job rotation to avoid repetitive motions that could exacerbate injuries.
  • Modifying workstations to accommodate sitting or standing as required by medical restrictions.

5. Special Projects

Engaging in special projects that do not fall within an employee’s regular duties but are valuable to the organization, like:

  • Conducting research or compiling reports on industry trends.
  • Assisting with marketing efforts, such as social media management or content creation.
  • Participating in committees or task forces aimed at workplace improvement.

6. Reduced Physical Tasks

Lightening the physical load of an employee’s regular duties, for example:

  • Limiting lifting to objects under a certain weight.
  • Allowing the use of tools or devices to assist in manual tasks.
  • Modifying the pace of work to accommodate recovery needs.

7. Flexible or Part-Time Hours

Adjusting the work schedule to accommodate medical appointments, physical therapy sessions, or simply to reduce the hours of work to match the employee’s current physical capabilities.

How Many Hours Can You Work on Light Duty In NYC?

In New York City, the number of hours you can work while on light duty depends on several factors, including your medical restrictions, the employer’s policies, and the availability of suitable light duty work that matches your physical capabilities and recovery needs. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, as each situation is unique. Here’s what to consider:

Medical Restrictions

Your healthcare provider will assess your condition and outline specific restrictions that may include limits on the number of hours you can work each day or week. These medical guidelines aim to ensure that returning to work does not impede your recovery.

Employer’s Policies and Available Work

Employers have different capabilities and policies regarding light duty work, including the types of tasks available and the hours those tasks require. Some employers may be able to offer full-time light duty positions, while others might only have part-time work available that fits within your medical restrictions.

Workers’ Compensation and Legal Considerations

Under New York’s workers’ compensation laws, injured workers are entitled to receive benefits that can include accommodations for light duty work. However, the law does not prescribe specific hour limits for light duty work; rather, it emphasizes the importance of adhering to medical advice and finding a suitable balance that facilitates the employee’s recovery.

Communication is Key

Open communication between you, your employer, and your medical provider is crucial. If your doctor has recommended a specific limit on your working hours, this information should be clearly communicated to your employer. Employers are generally required to make reasonable accommodations for injured workers to facilitate their return to work, within the constraints of available light duty work.

Monitoring Your Health

As you return to work on light duty, it’s important to monitor your health and communicate with your healthcare provider if you experience any difficulties. Adjustments to your work hours or duties may be necessary based on your recovery progress.

The number of hours you can work on light duty in NYC will be influenced by your individual circumstances, including medical advice and the nature of available work. Ensuring that these factors are carefully balanced is key to a successful and healthy return to the workplace.

How a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help Ensure Your Light-Duty Work

At Katz Leidman Freund & Herman, we understand that transitioning back to work after a work-related injury can be a complex process, especially when navigating the intricacies of light duty work assignments. Our experienced team of workers’ compensation lawyers is dedicated to ensuring that your return to work is not only smooth but also aligns with your recovery needs and legal rights. Here’s how we can assist you in ensuring your light duty work is appropriate and fair:

1. Evaluating Your Medical Restrictions

Our first step is to closely review the medical restrictions outlined by your healthcare provider. Understanding these limitations is crucial in determining whether proposed light duty work is suitable for your condition. We ensure that your work assignments do not exceed these restrictions and that your health remains the top priority.

2. Negotiating With Employers

We act as your advocate in discussions with your employer about your return to work. This includes negotiating light duty work assignments that respect your physical capabilities and recovery trajectory. Our goal is to ensure that your employer provides you with tasks that are meaningful and conducive to your healing process, without risking further injury.

3. Ensuring Compliance with Workers’ Compensation Laws

Katz Leidman Freund & Herman is well-versed in New York’s workers’ compensation laws and regulations. We ensure that your employer adheres to these laws by providing reasonable accommodations for your return to work. Our experience allows us to navigate the legal framework effectively, advocating for your rights and ensuring that your light duty work assignments are legally compliant.

4. Monitoring Your Work Situation

Our involvement doesn’t end with the negotiation of light duty work. We continuously monitor your situation to ensure that the agreed-upon accommodations are being implemented and maintained. If your condition changes or if issues arise with your light duty assignment, we are here to make the necessary adjustments to protect your health and legal rights.

5. Advising on Wage Replacement Benefits

If your light duty work comes with reduced hours or a lower wage, we can help you understand and claim any wage replacement benefits you may be entitled to under workers’ compensation laws. Our team ensures that you receive the full compensation you deserve, considering your reduced capacity to work.

6. Addressing Disputes and Appeals

Should disputes arise regarding your light duty work assignment or if you face retaliation from your employer for asserting your rights, Katz Leidman Freund & Herman is prepared to represent you in any legal proceedings. Our lawyers have the experience and determination to address disputes through negotiation or, if necessary, litigation.


Returning to work on light duty after a workplace injury should not compromise your recovery. At Katz Leidman Freund & Herman, we are committed to ensuring that your transition back to the workforce supports your health and respects your legal rights. If you’re navigating the complexities of light duty work in NYC, allow our team of skilled workers’ compensation lawyers to guide and support you every step of the way.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help ensure your light-duty work arrangement is both fair and beneficial to your recovery process.

NYC Light Duty Work FAQs

Navigating the intricacies of light-duty work in New York City can raise many questions for employees recovering from workplace injuries. At Katz Leidman Freund & Herman, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help clarify the key aspects of light duty work in NYC. Our goal is to ensure that you have the information you need to make informed decisions about your return to work.

What is Light Duty Work?

Light duty work consists of temporary, modified job tasks assigned to employees who cannot perform their regular duties due to a work-related injury or illness. These tasks are designed to accommodate the employee’s medical restrictions, allowing them to work in a reduced capacity while they recover.

Am I Entitled to Light Duty Work?

While employers are encouraged to provide light-duty work as a way to facilitate an employee’s return to the workforce, they are not legally required to create a position if none is available that suits the employee’s restrictions. However, employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the New York State Human Rights Law, as long as it does not cause undue hardship for the employer.

How Many Hours Can I Work on Light Duty?

The number of hours you can work on light duty depends on your medical restrictions, your employer’s policies, and the availability of suitable work that accommodates your condition. Your healthcare provider will provide guidance on what is medically advisable, which should be the primary factor determining your work hours.

Will My Pay Change While on Light Duty?

Your pay while on light duty can vary. Some employers may pay you your regular wage, while others might pay you based on the light duty position’s rate if it’s different. If there is a reduction in pay, workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits may help make up the difference.

What Happens If My Employer Doesn’t Offer Light Duty Work?

If your employer cannot provide light duty work that accommodates your restrictions, you may continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits, including medical benefits and a portion of your wage replacement, depending on the specifics of your case.

Can I Be Fired While on Light Duty?

Employers cannot fire you solely because you are injured or because you have requested or are working in a light-duty capacity. However, employment in New York is generally “at-will,” meaning employers can terminate employment for reasons unrelated to the injury or disability as long as it’s not discriminatory or retaliatory.

What If the Light Duty Work Aggravates My Injury?

If the light-duty work exacerbates your injury, stop the work immediately and consult your healthcare provider. Notify your employer and your workers’ compensation attorney, who can help adjust your work restrictions and ensure that your workers’ compensation benefits reflect your needs.