It is common, after a case has been accepted and the worker is receiving workers’ compensation benefits but has light duty work restrictions, for the employer/insurer to attempt to return the employee to modified work. Often, this is done by the employer/insurer to reduce the value of the claim. A return to work potentially reduces the future benefits due as the claimant normally will no longer receive weekly benefits.
It is important to force the employer/insurer to follow the correct procedure. Under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Statute, the Employer/Insurer must get the doctor to approve any light duty job description; also the employee must be given 10 days written notice with the details of the proposed job on a specific form.
Under the law; the employee normally must attempt the job to avoid having his/her benefits unilaterally suspended. However, if the employee at least tries the job but does not continue for more than 15 working days, the employer/insurer must reinstatement benefits. The employer/insurer can, however, file for a hearing requesting suspension. The employer/insurer has to show that the employee was offered suitable employment and could have performed the specific job.
If the employee continues for more than 15 days, and is not able to do the light duty job; he/she can file for a hearing requesting recommencement; however, in this scenario, benefits are not automatically reinstated; the employee has to prove he/she was unable to do the job because of the work injury.
This area of the law is confusing and an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney is often needed to navigate the system.