Navigating the 3-day waiting period in Minnesota Workers' Compensation

Navigating the 3-Day Waiting Period: Returning Employees to Work in Minnesota’s Workers’ Compensation

Minnesota’s workers’ compensation system is designed to protect employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Understanding the intricacies of the 3-day waiting period is crucial for employers and employees to ensure a smooth transition from medical treatment to returning to work. In this blog, we will explore the significance of the 3-day waiting period and provide an example scenario to illustrate how it works.

The 3-Day Waiting Period in Minnesota

Minnesota law mandates a 3-day waiting period for returning an employee back to work to maintain a claim as a medical-only claim. During these three days, the focus is on providing necessary medical treatment to the injured or ill employee while keeping them engaged in the workplace through a return-to-work plan.

Example Scenario

Let’s consider an employee named Sarah who works as a warehouse operator. On a fateful Friday, Sarah sustains a work-related injury to her back while lifting a heavy box. The severity of her injury requires immediate medical attention. Here is how the 3-day waiting period comes into play for Sarah:

Day 1: Friday

Sarah promptly reports her injury to her supervisor, who ensures she receives immediate medical treatment. It is crucial to report any work-related injuries or illnesses as soon as possible to initiate the workers’ compensation process.

Day 2: Saturday

Sarah continues to receive medical treatment and rests at home to allow her body to heal. At this stage, diligent documentation is essential to capture the details of the injury, treatment received, and any restrictions imposed by the physician.

Day 3: Sunday

Although it is the weekend, Sarah’s employer takes proactive steps in developing a return-to-work plan in consultation with her treating physician. They evaluate her work duties, modify tasks if necessary, and ensure accommodations are made to enable Sarah to return to work within the 3-day waiting period.

Day 4: Monday

Sarah confidently returns to work with the necessary medical treatment ongoing. She is assigned modified duties that align with her physical limitations while still receiving the required medical care. At this point, Sarah’s claim remains classified as a medical-only claim since she returned to work within the 3-day waiting period.

Transitions Beyond the 3-Day Waiting Period

If Sarah’s injury had prevented her from returning to work within the 3-day waiting period, the claim might transition from a medical-only claim to a lost time claim. In such cases, the employee’s absence from work will be reflected in the claim, and they may be eligible for wage replacement benefits.


Understanding the 3-day waiting period is essential for both employers and employees in Minnesota’s workers’ compensation system. By promptly reporting work-related injuries, providing immediate medical treatment, and developing a return-to-work plan within the waiting period, employers can keep claims as medical-only. This approach ensures that employees receive the necessary medical care while minimizing the impact on their time off work.

If you have questions regarding Minnesota worker’s compensation, reach out to one of our workers’ compensation specialists.

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