The number of employees at a firm significantly alters the rules and regulations governing the way those employees must be treated. For workers compensation, the number to know is five. For example, all employers with five or more employees are required to develop temporary alternative work opportunities for their injured employees. This means if an employee is injured on the job and has physical limitations as a result, the employee is entitled to return to work in an accommodated position which takes into account the work injury. If the employer is unable to provide the temporary alternative work then the employee may be entitled to total disability benefits. This makes sense because the employee is capable of working in some capacity and would be back to work if not for the fact that the employer is unable to provide the necessary accommodation. The number five is also relevant when it comes to reinstatement of employees who have suffered a work injury. Employers with five or more employees must reinstate an injured employee back into his or her former position of employment upon request as long as the position still exists, is available and the employee is not disabled from performing the duties of that position with reasonable accommodations. This right to reinstatement extends 18 months from the date of original injury and provides important job protection for injured workers. There are some exceptions to the right to reinstatement, but for most employees it means that their job must be held open, even if it is temporarily filled by another employee, during the period of absence due to a work injury. Temporary alternative duty (TAD) provides protection for an employee while the employee is still disabled but able to work in some fashion, while reinstatement provides the opportunity to return to the employee’s original position even if the employee still requires some reasonable accommodation for the employee’s limitations. If you have questions about your right to return to work after a serious work injury, contact Attorney Rice for a free telephone consultation, or visit our website.