PA Workers Compensation Law:  Do I Have to Accept a Job?
By: Kevin J. McGarrey, Esq.


Pennsylvania has myriad of rules regarding workers’ and employers’ rights regarding workers compensation benefits.  The employer, via his insurance company, has a financial interest in getting the worker back to work as quickly as possible.  Sometimes these plans might be potentially harmful to the safety of the employee out on “comp” benefits.

One way the employer/insurance company tries to lighten their load is by offering the injured worker suitable employment.  Sometimes these job offers are demeaning and even dangerous for the injured worker.  Do you really have to accept a job as a dollar store clerk if your employer offers it?

The answer, as always, is “yes and no”.

If, after you begin to receive benefits, your employer has evidence to prove that employment is available to you, within your medical restrictions and in your local area, you may receive an offer of employment. You have the right to either accept or decline the job offer.

If you decline, the employer may then petition a WC judge to either reduce or stop your wage-loss benefits based upon that job. The insurer/employer must continue to pay benefits during the hearing process unless the judge orders otherwise.

In open hearings, the judge will evaluate medical evidence, both from you and your insurer/employer, on the availability of the work and your ability to do it, before rendering a decision.

In summary, The Workers' Compensation Act generally requires injured workers to follow-through on job offers for positions that they are capable of performing. Once cleared to return to work by a physician or chiropractor, the employee runs the risk of losing his or her benefits if he does not return to work. If you disagree with a recommendation to return to work, you should consult a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the specifics of your case.

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