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Employee recovering? Offer light-Duty job to cut off unemployment benefits

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

When an employee gets hurt on the job, she is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to help replace lost wages. But that doesn’t mean her employer has to keep paying full benefits forever—if the employee can return to a light-duty or modified job. And employees who don’t follow up on those kinds of alternative job offers could lose their benefits.

Recent case: Linda Muretic filed a workers’ compensation claim against her former employer, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor, for injuries she suffered while walking up a staircase at work. She claimed that she was unable to work because of injuries to her neck, shoulder, knee and elbow. She received full benefits for three years.

Then the department learned that Muretic had recovered enough to be able to perform sedentary office work. It offered her a job, but she didn’t respond. Therefore she lost her benefits. She sued, but the court said Muretic’s failure to respond showed bad faith. That meant her benefits could be cut. (Muretic v. WCAB, No. 787 C.D. 2007, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, 2007)

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