About light duty work in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation?

Light duty in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation becomes an issue when you are released to return to work by your doctor. Many employers in Pennsylvania offer light duty work to stop paying temporary total disability benefits that are costly for their insurance premiums. It is also important to note that employers are not required to offer light duty.

What is light duty work?

Employers have the right to offer you light duty work that meets your doctor’s work restrictions. That light duty assignment could be your pre-injury job you were performing when injured, but with certain modifications to fit your work restrictions, or an entirely different position that meets your doctor’s work restrictions. In fact, some employers have specific jobs designed for light duty for injured workers. For some employers, light duty jobs are also temporary, meaning they may accommodate your work restrictions for a period of time, but not indefinitely.

These positions could be sit-down type positions, job such as taking inventory, putting stickers and labels on items, picking items, cleaning, monitoring, greeting customers, and more. Likewise, as stated, it could be your pre-injury job with modifications or assistance.

Will I earn the same amount of light duty?

Sometimes injured workers are brought back to light duty at the same earnings as before the injury occurred. In this situation, the temporary total disability wage loss benefits would be suspended due to no loss of income. In other instances, an injured worker will return to light duty at a lower pay rate. If that occurs, then you will still receive partial benefits. For example, if your average weekly wage is $800.00 per week and you return to work in light duty getting paid $500.00 per week, then the insurance company would continue paying partials to make up a portion of the difference. In this example, you would be $300.00 short per week. The insurance company would be responsible for making a partial payment of 2/3 of the $300.00 per week.

Do I have to accept light duty?

The short answer is no, you do not. However, not doing so may jeopardize your wage loss benefits. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act has a good faith requirement for injured workers. Failure to return to light duty will result in your employer filing a Suspension Petition to suspend your wage loss benefits. Your best approach is to return to light duty and try the position. If it increases your pain and symptoms, then call your doctor right away.

If the light duty job offer is based on a release by a doctor that performed an Independent Medical Examination, then you do not need to return to work. Follow your own doctor’s restrictions. Failure to accept the light duty job in this situation will still result in a Suspension Petition being filed by your employer, but fighting that Suspension is much easier when you have a doctor who believes you cannot work or perform that type of light duty work.

What should I do if I am offered light duty work?

First, call Mooney Law right away. Get a free consultation with Mooney Law so we can get involved in protecting your benefits and rights. Second, you have a right to have a job description of the light duty job offer so you can review that description with your doctor. There are complexities and nuances to light duty job offers.

If you have been offered light duty and have concerns about returning to work, call Mooney law today for a FREE consultation. We will meet and discuss the light duty job offer with you and advise you the best way to proceed. Again, workers’ compensation is a complex statute and area of law. Your best course of action is to even the playing field by obtaining an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. The insurance company has legal representation reviewing your claim and advising them how to proceed. So should you! Call Mooney Law today at 717-200-HELP or 717-632-4656. You can also email us direct at info@mooney4law.com. You can also complete the Schedule a Consultation form right here on our Workers’ Compensation page of the Mooney Law website.

Mark Buterbaugh

Attorney representing injured workers and Social Security Disability clients in Pennsylvania and Maryland.