After a work-related injury, it’s not uncommon for workers to consider new job prospects. Reasons might include no longer feeling safe at the workplace or getting offered a better, higher-paying position at another company. You might be able to start a new job while receiving workers’ compensation benefits, but by law, you must tell your employers and report all your income, or you could face workers’ compensation fraud charges, which can lead to legal trouble.
Regardless of the reason, if you are thinking about resigning from your current job or starting a new one and are concerned about how your workers’ compensation benefits will be affected, you are urged to consult with an attorney who can help with this decision.
If I Quit and Take on a Different Job, Will My Wage and Medical Benefits Be Terminated?
Georgia law requires employers to offer workers’ compensation insurance only to their employees, per the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. So, if you change jobs, your employer is not legally bound to continue making wage replacement payments or medical benefits. Beginning right after you give them two weeks’ notice, your employer could terminate your weekly payments or reimbursements for healthcare costs.
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Should I Wait Until I’m Fully Healed Before Changing Jobs?
Although you may be excited about accepting a new career opportunity, it would probably be in your best interest to wait until the injuries or illnesses you sustained at your current job are healed and you’re declared healthy. You should also consult a licensed health provider who can help determine when you should be physically able to start working again.
What’s more, if you reinjure yourself because you went back to work too soon, it can impact your health and make getting another approval from workers’ compensation challenging. For example, aggravating an injury before it’s healed or before a health provider clears you to work again could result in your benefits being terminated. Also, if you concealed your injury or the extent of the damage, your employer could end your employment.
Should I Take a Second Job While Receiving Workers’ Compensation?
If you take on a second job to increase your income, you must tell both employers about this decision. Workers’ compensation aside, some companies’ rules prohibit employees from doing this so that they can focus on their job in question.
Like changing jobs, taking a second job may also imply you are physically capable of working. If you want to continue receiving workers’ compensation, you will have to show that the responsibilities required of your second job are less intensive or somehow different from your first job.
If your second job is not as physically taxing, you may continue receiving benefits. However, the health provider supervising your treatment should approve that you are fit enough to be effective at the second job.
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What if My Second Job Is Paid ‘Under the Table,’ and I Don’t Report My Income?
Receiving workers’ compensation payments while working and earning wages you do not report is insurance fraud and could lead to severe consequences. A charge of insurance fraud in Georgia may be punishable by a $1,000 to $10,000 fine and up to one year in jail, per O.C.G.A. § 34-9-19.
What About Light-Duty Work? New or Modified Position, Same Employer
As you are in recovery from your work-related injury or illness, your health provider may green-light you for light-duty work, in which you will be placed in a less physically or mentally taxing job until you have fully recovered. Or your current position might be modified to meet your doctor’s restrictions. However, for this to come about, your employee must be able to offer you light-duty work, which is not always the case.
If a doctor clears you for light-duty work, it is indeed offered, and you believe you are capable, decide on a return date and honor it. Otherwise, you may forfeit your workers’ compensation benefits. If you and your legal counsel believe the doctor who cleared you is mistaken, you can appeal to another authorized health provider or the local workers’ compensation panel.
Still Considering Leaving Your GA Job While Receiving Workers’ Compensation? Call Us First
If you’re considering leaving your current job, you can consult with our workers’ compensation attorney about the best course to take before talking to your employer. Do not risk losing your workers’ compensation benefits by making an uneducated decision. Instead, let our attorneys at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers review your situation and advise you on how to move forward.
Workers’ compensation helps employees who have incurred a job-related injury or illness that prevents them from working. Giving your employer any reason to believe you can work may make them question why you are receiving workers’ compensation in the first place. While you could start a new job while receiving workers’ compensation, legal counsel can help you avoid making decisions that could interrupt your benefits or put you in a compromising legal situation. Call us today.