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Losing Your Job on Workers’ Compensation

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Since the beginning of outbreak of the COVID 19 virus, many factories, plants and offices have been forced to close down due to the nationwide and statewide quarantines. This has led to massive layoffs of employees across the country, including in Pennsylvania. This has also lead to an increase in people who were injured at work or working light duty who are now out of work. These workers are at great risk of losing their workers’ compensation benefits. If you are someone who has been laid off, furloughed, or your company closed, and you want to keep your workers’ compensation benefits, then you should contact a lawyer immediately, preferably one who specializes in workers’ compensation law.

What is Working Light Duty?

After you are injured at work and you have an accepted workers’ compensation claim, you will often be put on light duty under your doctor’s restrictions. By receiving Light Duty Work, it means that your employer will place you in a less physically demanding job until your injury is fully healed. Also, your employer can offer you the option of your current position with reasonable accommodations to fit within the restrictions set forth by your doctor.

Unfortunately, some employers push their employees beyond the restrictions set forth by the doctor. It is very important to notify your doctor and create an incident report with your employer if this leads to any further injury. If you employer forces you to return to your regular duties too fast, then it can cause you to worsen or suffer more injuries. If you ever feel rushed to go back to your regular duties when you do not feel fully ready, then it is highly advisable to ask to be seen by your doctor again immediately.

Light Duty Examples

Light duty, as defined above, is a modified version of your old job or a completely different role, all based on the idea that it is physically or mentally less demanding than your regular job duties based on your disability or your work injury. The light-duty jobs may consist of doing less physical labor, working slower, or working shorter hours, etc. Here are a few examples of light-duty work:

  • Taking inventories
  • Performing office tasks
  • Working a desk job
  • Supervising and reporting on job sites
  • Monitoring surveillance cameras
  • Performing machinery/equipment maintenance
Things to Remember When Taking Light or Modified Duty Into Consideration

The light duty work you receive may be able to affect your workers’ compensation claim or the workers’ compensation benefits that you are receiving. There are some scenarios where your light work duties can have an impact on you receiving your workers’ compensation benefits.

Examples of these scenarios are:

If you were to take light duty work and:

You made the same amount of money or more than what you made before your injury, your payments for lost wages will not continue, OR

You earn less money than you did before work-related injuries occurred, you will receive lost wage payments in the form of partial disability benefits

Additionally, it is important to know that you do not have to agree to do light duty work that exceeds the medical restrictions set by your doctor. If you decided to not take a light-duty job that accommodates your medical leave restrictions, the employer has the ability request a workers’ compensation judge to terminate or modify the benefits you receive. If your employer decided to not offer you a light-duty job, you should continue to receive your workers’ compensation benefits.

What to do When Offered Light Duty Work?

When you are offered light duty at work, make sure you show up to work as much as possible and complete all of your expected assignment. If you do not follow this, then it can prevent you from keeping your workers’ compensation benefits. You have the right to request an extension of the starting date or time if you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits. If you are unable to receive an extension, then you must have a really good excuse for coming into work late or not showing up. If you do receive an extension on your starting date or time for work, not showing up to the job will give your employer the right to withdraw your offer and your benefits could be terminated.

What If I Lost My Job While Working Light Duty, Or With An Open Workers’ Compensation Claim?

If you had any type of open workers compensation case when you lost your job, whether it was working light duty, medical only (where you are still able to work but you are getting treatment that the workers’ compensation insurer is paying for) or you had an injury and have not yet received treatment, it is imperative that you protect your claim immediately after you lose your job. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you make sure you do not lose your benefits or any money that may be owed to you.

If you had a light duty job, or other open claim and lost your job, you may be able to receive lost wages and continue to have your medical bills paid for. If you do nothing to protect your claim, you could be stuck with those medical bills and no paycheck.

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