When employees are injured on the job, employers are often forced to compensate them for their injuries since they occurred while the employee was working for the benefit of the employer. Once this occurs, many employers will offer to bring the employee back at a different position, with varied duties and lesser pay.
The offer for a new job is only legal if the employer follows the Worker’s Compensation Act. The Act requires the employer to issue a Notice of Ability to Return to Work and makes a legitimate job offer.
If the employee refuses to take the job for reasons which do not seem justifiable, the court may find the employee is acting in bad faith. Insufficient denials may include turning down the judge because the pay is less, the position has less stature or because the employee does not want to work the scheduled hours. On the other hand, if the employee turns down the job because the employee honestly does not think he or she is capable of performing the required duties, the court will likely not make any bad faith findings.
If the court does make a bad faith finding, the injured employee loses the ability to collect wage loss benefits. Because of the huge risk involved, if you are injured on the job, you should contact an attorney who can properly advise you. If you are offered a job, it may be best to accept it so you do not risk a bad faith determination.
If the job offers less money, the employer will be required to pay you the difference to make up for the loss in money on the new job. If the job requires a schedule that is unfavorable to you, it may be wise to accept the job and find a way to work with the new schedule to ensure you continue to receive your benefits.