You've been injured on the job. You've gone through all the critical steps to file your workers' compensation claim. Your attorney successfully advocated for a fair settlement while you recover.
Now, your employer decides to offer you light-duty work. It's important to first understand this is often a money-saving tactic used by your employer's insurance company.
That's why you should understand your rights if you are currently collecting workers' compensation benefits. According to the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation, under O.C.G.A. §34-9-240 your employer can't require you to go back to work unless certain criteria are met.
Employer/insurer must provide a description of light-duty work
A notice of light-duty work describing the hours you would work, your wages, and the tasks you would be performing must be sent to your authorized physician. In addition, your employer and their insurer must send a copy of all light-duty job details to you and your attorney.
Your attorney will then determine whether or not the light-duty work correlates with your ability to perform the job. This would include discussing the nature of your injury with your doctor and weighing your recovery with the physical and/or mental demands of your job.
According to the board rule, you would have to have received a medical evaluation or treatment within the last 60 days for your doctor to have an informed opinion on your ability to perform your job.
Your doctor must approve the light-duty work
Your employer may only require you to return for light-duty work if your authorized doctor approves of the job functions and other details described by your employer and their insurer.
The employer/insurer must provide a WC-240 form
So your doctor has decided that you are able to perform the light-duty work described by your employer. Now what? Once the light-duty job has been approved, your employer and their insurer must send a WC-240 form to you and your attorney.
A WC-240 form is a notice confirming that light-duty work is being made available to you, including the date, time, and place you must report to work. Once you receive this form, your employer must give you and your attorney 10 days advance notice.
Returning to work
Even if you do return to work, you may find that the light-duty tasks are too strenuous and risky to perform with your condition. Luckily, the law requires your employer and their insurer to reinstate your workers' compensation benefits if you have attempted to perform your job for eight cumulative hours, but aren't able to continue working for more than 15 days.
However, your employer and its insurer are not required to immediately reinstate your benefits if:
- You return to work and leave after four hours because you're unable to perform your job
- You work for 16 days or more and then decide that you're unable to perform your job
Don't go it alone. Hire an experienced attorney today.
This law is critical to preventing a worker from recovering from an injury from getting hurt on the job again. When returning to your employer for light-duty work, it's absolutely crucial that you are able to perform the work without the risk of aggravating an existing condition or sustaining a potentially devastating injury in the future.
That's why you should never agree to return for light-duty work without first speaking to an experienced Atlanta workers' compensation attorney. Let the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. work for you. We'll leave no stone unturned when making sure you are treated fairly by your employer and within the workers' compensation system.
Contact us today to learn how we can help.