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Are employers obligated to pay for retraining?

Many workers are in skilled labor industries. This is especially true in Minnesota, where road construction occurs annually, and many people work in factories every day. These industries are also high risk for workplace accidents. 

Construction, in particular, is very risky for a growing workforce. The United States Department of Labor reported that since 2010, construction worker jobs have increased steadily. Preliminary estimates for July of 2016 indicate 5,019,000 U.S. workers were employed in nonsupervisory construction work.

But what if you get injured on the job and can no longer perform normal expected tasks? Maybe you lifted some heavy equipment or boxes and injured your back. This is a common workplace injury which could result in a workers' compensation claim. If your employer disputes your injuries, speak to an attorney about your rights.

In many cases, people recover and are able to return to work after medical treatment and rehabilitation. However, what happens if you are no longer able to perform the normal, expected tasks of your previous job, like lifting, bending and stretching? You may only be able to do work in a totally unrelated job field from your previous work. You might even need to look for work in a different industry altogether. Will your employer's workers' compensation insurance pay for retraining? What is your employer's obligation?

How is rehabilitation eligibility determined?

According to the Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry (MDLI), the employee starts the process by filling out a rehabilitation request form. The request will initiate a consultation with a qualified rehabilitation consultant (QRC). The employer is also notified and must respond within 14 days. When you meet with the QRC, these three questions are considered in determining the employee's eligibility:

  1. Does the workplace injury prevent you from performing your normal job duties
  2. Can your employer provide a different job that would be suitable for you?
  3. Would retraining services be beneficial to you as a worker?

MDLI explains the following ways employees can be prepared for other work:

  1. Evaluate skills employee already has and determine suitable occupation.
  2. Place worker in an occupation with on-the-job training.
  3. Approve worker to get new skills through education and training.

Your employer may dispute your injuries or your need for retraining. Seek help from an experienced workers' compensation attorney. You can't afford to lose your livelihood. 

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