Unfortunately, a workers’ compensation claim does not provide job security. An employer is not required to hold a job for an injured worker while out of work due to an injury unless it would violate the American Disability Act, or if job protection was negotiated by a union. For instance, many municipal jobs have some job protection if an injured worker cannot return to work after a work injury; however, this protection does have an expiration date. Each municipality has different requirements regarding employment status. Besides municipalities, certain private employers also have some form of job protection for those collecting workers’ compensation benefits. Just like municipalities this security also will expire after some time.
Being employed is one of the requirements for receiving weekly wage loss benefits from workers’ compensation insurance carrier. If an injured worker loses his or her employee status, there is case law stating that injured worker must look for work unless all doctors agree the injured worker is 100% disabled from working. This includes both the treating physician as well as the independent medical examiner (IME), who is the doctor hired by the insurance carrier to examine the injured worker.
Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic there has been a stay on the requirement to search for a job if the injured worker is no longer employed; however, this will most likely be lifted during summer of 2021. Proof of a job search requires the injured party maintain records: what jobs were applied to, how the job was applied to, and was any response to the application. This can easily be obtained by applying online and printing out confirmation that an application was submitted.
An injured worker should always know his or her employment status and be proactive if released/fired from position to start searching for new jobs.