Can I change jobs while doing a workers’ comp claim?
If you’re in the middle of dealing with a workers’ compensation claim, can you start a new job? What if you were already interviewing with another company when you were injured, and then they offered you the position? What would happen?
Quitting Your Full Duty Job After a Workers’ Comp Claim
If you’re working the same type of job you were when you were injured, you can quit the job you were doing when you were injured with no consequences to you workers’ compensation claim. You could have started interviewing and even have gotten an offer before you were injured, or it might have happened after you were injured.
Quitting Your Light Duty Job After a Workers’ Comp Claim
If you’re working a light duty job (a job that is not what you were previously doing because your injury prevents you from doing your regular job while you heal) quitting the job will count as “refusal of selective employment”, a legal term that means you did not take an offered job. You must find another light duty job within six months by getting another light duty job that pays the same as the light duty job that you quit. When you’re doing a light duty job, you will receive wages from the job and can receive workers’ compensation benefits as well to help make up part of the difference between your current wages and the wages you were doing before the injury.
If you don’t find another light-duty job that pays the same within six months, you won’t be able to get wage loss benefits in the future to help regain your lost pay.
So if you’re doing a light duty job after your injury and another company offers you a light duty job paying the same or more than you were getting, you can take the new job and not have any difficulties. If the new company offers you a light duty job paying less than you were getting, taking the new job counts as refusal of selective employment, just like quitting a job and being unemployed would.
If you are being harassed at work, or your work is not following the doctor’s orders for what you can do for light duty work, then quitting the light duty job is allowed and you will not be penalized.
However, if you’re an injured worker who quits their light duty job, doesn’t find a replacement within six months, and later becomes totally disabled, the slate is wiped clean. You will be able to go on like you never had the refusal of selective employment and will be able to get all of the benefits that you’re entitled to, such as permanent total disability benefits.