Light Duty Job Offer
Failure to Accept Light Duty Job Offer and Denial of Compensation
Under Ohio’s Workers’ Compensation Laws, employers have an option to provide a light duty job offer to an injured employee with Temporary Total Disability. These job offers help the employers to avoid or terminate payment of related compensation and also allow the injured employee to gradually return to work while they recover.
In Ohio, after an employee who suffered injuries on the job claims compensation, he or she will be required to go through medical examination. On the basis of the doctor’s recommendations, a list of limitations or restrictions caused due to the injury will be prepared. Taking into account these limitations, the employer can provide a light duty job offer to the injured employee.
Requirements of a Valid Light Duty Job Offer
A light duty job offer must meet the requirements mandated by the Ohio Bureau of Worker’ Compensation.
- Good Faith and suitable employment
The offer must be made in good faith. The employer should have a genuine intention of providing a suitable job that the employee can reasonably take up. If the employer offers a job which he or she knows will not be taken up by the employee, then the offer lacks good faith. For example, offering a cooking or cleaning job to a corporate executive with a desk job is not an offer made in “good faith.”
- Reasonable proximity
The job offered must be in reasonable proximity with the injured worker’s residence.
- Written Offer
The offer must be made in writing. It should specify the position description, job duties, the physical demands of the job, the start date, the hours and the rate of pay.
If the injured employee rejects a verbal light duty job offer, the employer must send a written offer at least 48 hours before filing a termination request.
Denial of compensation to an injured employee
Under the Ohio Revised Code, when an employer makes a valid job offer which takes into account the limitations prescribed in the medical examination, payment of temporary total disability compensation can be terminated.
Recently, in the case of State ex rel. Ryan Alternative Staffing, Inc. v. Moss, 2020-Ohio-5197, the Tenth District Court of Appeals held that an injured worker is not entitled to receive temporary total disability compensation after rejecting an otherwise appropriate light-duty job offer made in good faith by the employer.
In this case, the injured worker, Ms. Moss suffered a knee sprain while working for a temporary staffing agency. She was asked to return to work with restrictions after two weeks. Initially, the agency made her a verbal offer to work at one of its offices. However, she rejected the offer on the grounds of unavailability during the offered work hours as she needed to take care of her granddaughter during those hours. Even though the Industrial Commission accepted her reasoning, the Court rejected her claim for temporary total disability compensation. The court noted that the offer was made in good faith and fulfilled all the legal requirements. The court also noted that even though the injured workers’ reasons were understandable, the rejection of the offer was based on reasons unrelated to the injury. The court did not accept such reasoning where there was no causal relationship between the reasons for rejection and the work-related injury.
The court rejected Ms. Moss’ plea for non-termination of temporary total disability compensation.