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9.

Provide for “Light Duty” With Clear Documentation

Employers often provide “light duty” programs in order to return the injured

employee to work as soon as possible to reduce workers’ compensation costs. While the

ADA and Massachusetts law do not require creation of light duty jobs for employees who

cannot otherwise perform the essential functions of their job, there may be an obligation to

provide “light duty” as a reasonable accommodation in some circumstances—either as job

restructuring so that the employee is able to perform the job temporarily while recovering (or

on a permanent basis), or as a reassignment to a vacant position with essential functions that

the employee can perform. If a light duty assignment is intended to be only temporary, the

employer should make it clear, in advance and in writing that the assignment is for a specific

period of time. By doing so, the employer reduces the potential that the “essential functions”

of the employee’s position are modified due to the light duty assignment.

B.

Family Leave and Other Leaves of Absence

There are a number of other reasons why an employee may be absent and entitled to

leave, unrelated to health. Employers should adopt policies to cover leaves of absence for

family-related reasons under the FMLA, the MMLA and the Small Necessities Leave Act

(SNLA). See Part I, Sections 1.4(A), (B) and (C). Other reasons may include bereavement

leave, personal leave, military leave or leave for jury duty. Employers should ensure that: (1)

their practices are compliant with statutes and regulations governing such leave; and (2) their

practices are consistent among similarly situated employees to avoid the perception (or

claim) of unequal treatment. To accomplish the latter goal, it is often advisable to charge a

specific manager to administer leave requests and to make sure that documentation of such

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