Job Searching After a Workplace Injury
Injured workers may still search for a job while they collect workers’ compensation benefits. Since workers receive these benefits on the basis that a work-related injury kept them from working, it may seem counterintuitive for them to simultaneously search for work and receive benefits. But, due to the requirements dictated by the Workers’ Compensation Board, workers must continue to search for employment so that they can maintain these benefits.
Applying for Workers’ Compensation While Employed
Employees may be nervous that filing for workers’ compensation while they are employed will provoke and offend their employers. Even if someone is so hurt that they cannot safely perform their job, they may avoid getting their benefits so that they do not ruffle feathers or get fired. However, employees should know that filing for workers’ compensation is not a fireable offense.
The employer’s insurance company, not the employer, is responsible for the worker’s medical treatment. Employees should feel empowered to apply for compensation even if they are currently working. When they stop working, however, in order to retain their compensation they must remain “attached to the labor market.”
Defining “Attached to the Labor Market”
When a partially disabled worker receives workers’ compensation benefits, the Worker’s Compensation Board requires him or her to prove he or she has stayed “attached to the labor market.” If he or she is not working, the employee must make an effort to find work that matches his or her education, training, experience, and physical limitations, or show other ways that they are pursuing a profession. Some ways a worker can prove his or her attachment to the labor market include:
- Attending schools for a new degree
- Attending training programs
- Applying to several jobs a week and keeping a record of the interview processes
A lawyer can tell his or her client when to should begin searching for a job, but it is almost always a necessary part of maintaining a workers’ compensation claim.
Light Work: An Alternative Arrangement with a Current Employer
Aside from receiving workers’ compensation benefits while searching for a new job, there are other ways an injured employee can get back on his or her feet. Employers may offer “light work,” or tasks that are not as physically taxing, as a substitute for the work that caused the injury. This might be an entirely different job at the company, or work modified to protect the employee’s health and safety.
An employer would have to make this option available, and a physician would have to approve it. However, light work is an excellent way for an employee to stay at a company while collecting benefits.
Though it may seem like a contradiction to search for work while collecting benefits designed to help people recover from injuries that make them unable to work, being attached to the labor market is how recovering workers maintain their workers’ compensation claims. If an employee is still working, so long as he or she experiences an injury at work, he or she should feel empowered to file a claim. In many cases, the employee will leave his or her job and search for another.