Did you know that you, an injured employee receiving workers’ compensation benefits, turning down your California employer’s offer to do modified or alternative work while recovering could result in the loss of certain workers’ comp benefits?
We get it. You have been injured at work, your workers’ comp claim has been approved and you are getting medical treatment, and the last thing you want is doing some work that you absolutely do not want to do. While you cannot return to your pre-injury duties at work, your employer may offer you modified or alternative work to accommodate your physical limitations. But what if you do not want to accept that offer? What are the consequences of turning down the light-duty work offered by your employer in California?
Refusal to accept your employer’s job offer may result in the loss of benefits
“That is a great question,” says our Lancaster workers compensation attorney at the Koszdin, Fields & Sherry law firm. Unfortunately, many workers in Van Nuys, Los Angeles and all across California do not think about the potential consequences of turning down their employer’s offer to do modified or alternative work after a workplace injury.
Those who refuse to perform the alternative or modified work duties offered by their employer while receiving workers’ comp benefits learn it the hard way that doing so may lead to the loss of the right to additional benefits available in the workers’ comp program.
Benefits available to workers with a partial permanent disability
If you cannot return to your pre-injury work duties because of your partial (temporary) or permanent (long-lasting) disability, your employer may offer you regular, modified, or alternative work
Those who have a partial permanent disability in California as a result of a work-related injury or illness are eligible for supplemental job displacement benefits with the worth of the voucher of up to $6,000 to pay for your employment retraining, learning new skills and getting started in a new occupation.
These generous benefits are available to employees who cannot return for their former job but are no longer available once, and if, their employer offers them regular, modified, or alternative work.
What happens if you turn down the modified or alternative work offer?
After your primary physician completes a permanent and stationary report stating that your medical condition is stable and makes it impossible for you to return to your former job duties due to the physical limitations associated with the injury or illness, your employer may offer you alternative or modified work.
Given the limitations created by your permanent partial disability, your employer must choose whether to offer you modified work (which is basically your old job excluding the tasks you cannot do with your condition) or alternative work (an entirely different type of job). By accepting the work offer, you automatically lose your eligibility to receive supplemental job displacement benefits but only as long as the new job offer meets the following requirements:
- You are capable of performing all of the tasks with your physical limitations;
- The job will last at least 12 months;
- The pay will be at least 85 percent of what you were earning prior to the injury; and
- The workplace must be within a reasonable commuting distance from where you live.
Long story short, if you refuse to accept a light-duty job offered by your employer while receiving workers’ comp benefits, you may lose some of the benefits. But this is not the case in California, where employers cannot cut your temporary disability benefits based on your decision to turn down the offer. However, your employer may be able to reduce these benefits if you turn down that offer at a later stage of your case (such as when you reach maximum medical improvement).
Consult with our Lancaster workers compensation attorney to speak about your case. Call today the offices of Koszdin, Fields & Sherry law firm at 818-812-5639 or 800-747-3447 for a free case evaluation.