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Employer can require injured employee to work

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Q. We have an employee who is out with a workers’ compensation injury on a medical leave of absence. We have a job that this employee should be able to perform, but it is not the same job that he was performing when he was injured. We called him in and told him about the job, but he refuses to do the job because he doesn’t like it. Can we stop his workers’ compensation benefits? —G.J.

A. First, you should discuss this with your workers’ compensation insurance carrier or administrator if you are self-insured. They should be familiar with these situations and able to guide you.

But the answer that they will give you is that you have the burden of making a reasonable offer of employment that is specific enough that the employee understands the work required to be performed, and thus can make a reasonable decision regarding his ability to perform the work. Do this in writing. It is not enough to say, “Work will be provided within your restrictions.” Be specific about the job.

Assuming the work is within the employee’s restrictions, you can stop paying weekly benefits. If you are “voluntarily” paying benefits, you can stop immediately. If you are paying benefits pursuant to an order of the Workers’ Compensation Agency, you are required to go back and get an order permitting you to stop paying benefits. In any event, the question of whether the job offer was within the employee’s restrictions can be litigated before the agency. 

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