At some point when you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, your employer may claim that you are well enough to return to a light duty job and offer you this type of position. How you handle an offer of a job with light duty restrictions can have a huge impact on your workers’ compensation claim. Here, we discuss your employer’s duties when offering you a light duty job and how to avoid pitfalls that could damage your claim.
What Are Your Employer’s Duties When Offering a Light Duty Job?
Until 2013, an injured worker had few protections when an employer’s insurance company claimed that he could return to work if he was given a light duty job. His workers’ compensation benefits could be cut off if he did not try the job. However, benefits could be reinstated if he tried the job but had to quit doing it due to his injuries within 15 days.
Under a rule change in 2013, employers are now required to give workers written notice of a light duty job using forms provided by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. These two forms must be completed:
- WC-240A. Form WC-240A is job description for the light duty job that is submitted to the worker’s doctor for approval.
- WC-240. Form WC-240 is the actual notice of the light duty job being offered. An employer must provide the essential duties of the job, location of the job, time and date to report to work, number of hours to be worked per day, and pay rate.
Should You Try a Light Duty Job When it Is Offered?
In most cases, it is in your best interest to try the light duty job being offered. If you refuse to even attempt the job, the insurance company could cut off your workers’ compensation benefits immediately. Here are some of the rules in these cases:
- If you try the job for at least 8 hours but must leave the job after fewer than 15 scheduled work days, the insurance company must immediately resume your workers’ compensation payments.
- If the insurance company resumes payments to you after you tried a light duty job, the insurance company still has the right to dispute your right to workers’ compensation benefits. The company can file a motion to ask the judge to decide whether the job offered was suitable. You will continue to receive payments until a judge makes a decision on your employer’s motion.
- If you refuse a light duty job offer and your benefits stop, you can file a motion asking the judge to reinstate your payments. However, you will not have any income until a hearing is scheduled and the judge makes a decision—which could be months later.
The Eight-Hour Work Rule
Your employer may not offer you a full-time light duty job. This is not uncommon. You would need to work more than one shift to meet the eight-hour work rule in this situation.
What happens if you cannot work the full eight hours? Unfortunately, Georgia law does not provide any exceptions to the requirement that you work this amount of time. Your best strategy for avoiding a dispute is to work the time required.
When calculating your hours of work, do not count any breaks or lunch hour as part of your time working. This is another way that you can avoid a potential dispute with the insurance company about the number of hours you worked.
You always want to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before deciding what to do if you receive a notice of a light duty job from your employer. He can advise you of the steps to take to protect your rights to receive workers’ compensation benefits and can file a motion in your case if you need a judge’s decision as to the appropriateness of the job being offered.
Have You Been Injured At Work?
If you've been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Augusta office directly at 706.863.6600 to schedule your free consultation.