If someone suffers from a workplace injury and they are out on workers’ compensation benefits, their doctor will offer the worker a notice stating their work restrictions once they are able to return to work.
Injured workers in Massachusetts who are out on workers’ compensation may receive a “light duty” job offer from their employer. It can be difficult for the injured worker to decide what to do to protect their best interest.
Light duty work means that your company will offer to have you perform less physically or mentally demanding work until you are able to perform your full job responsibilities again. This allows the employee to sustain an income, while the employer can use the employee’s salary to hire temporary support until the injured worker is healthy and able to return to work.
Examples of Light Duty Work
Light duty work is essentially an altered version of your old job, but sometimes it can be a completely different role. These roles may involve performing less physical labor, working slower, or even shorter hours. Some examples include:
- Supervising on job sites
- Working a desk job
- Taking inventory
- Performing equipment maintenance
Will I still receive my previous pay rate if I go back to work “light duty”?
The Worker’s Compensation Act offers incentives to the employer for the employee to return to work as soon as possible. If the injured worker is partially disabled, or, able to work light duty for reduced hours, Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) compensation helps make up the difference between light duty wages and the injured worker’s pre-injury wages. In the event that the light duty wages surpass the statutory maximum average weekly wage, then the injured worker will not receive TPD.
Will working “light duty” impact my ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits later?
Workers’ compensation insurance companies will try to get the injured worker back to work to start earning wages again. If the injured worker does return to work, the insurer can lower or cut off their payment of weekly workers’ compensation benefits. Doing so saves the workers’ compensation insurer a significant amount of money and will also reduce the employer’s insurance premiums.
The more money the injured worker can make, the less money he/she will receive in workers’ compensation benefits. If the light duty position being offered is the same amount of money as the employee was receiving before the injury, he/she will not be entitled to collect any more weekly workers’ compensation benefits.
Sometimes, accepting a light duty job can have negative consequences for the injured worker and their workers’ compensation claim. If the light duty job was created specifically for this injured employee (solely to avoid payment of any future workers’ compensation benefits), and the injured employee is unable to recover enough to move back to the previous type of job they were doing prior to injury, then the employee may lay the employee off. The employer may do so under the disguise that it was for economic purposes, poor performance, etc. The good thing is, there are laws in place in the state of Massachusetts to offer protection for employees who refuse a job offer that is concluded to be not real.
There are significant financial concerns for an injured worker to keep in mind when offered a light duty job. Issues arise when employers push their workers beyond limits set forth by the doctor. If this occurs, contact your doctor, and fill out an incident report with your employer. If you have any questions, related to workers’ compensation, contact Keches Law Group today at 617-898-0808 for a free consultation. No fee unless we win.