Understanding how Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws affect you if you switch jobs
The thought of changing jobs while receiving workers’ compensation benefits may have crossed your mind after an injury. Most people consider changing jobs when they find a less demanding workplace that is within the recommendations and physical restrictions set by their doctor. If a certain job enables you to move forward without causing further injuries, it might be worth considering. You may also find a better-paying job or a job more in line with your qualifications that allows you to leave a low-paying job that puts you at risk of work-related injuries.
You may have several financial, personal, and medical reasons to pick a new job. However, remember that going back to work before you fully recover puts you at risk of re-injury and slows down the recovery process. You also need to note that your employer does not have any legal obligation to hold your job until you recover. As such, your position may be gone by the time you fully recover.
So, does Georgia’s workers’ compensation law allow you to get a new job while receiving benefits?
Can you get a new job while on workers’ comp?
You can even work for the same company but handle lighter duties. Employers are not mandated by law to offer you lighter duties while on workers’ comp, but some employers will give you the chance to continue working in a different position from the one you had before your injury.
Changing jobs and your workers’ comp benefits
While you can legally change your jobs while receiving workers’ comp benefits, that decision can affect your benefits. Be sure you understand the job description at a new company, as well as the requirements of the job you are about to take. If you take a position that has certain physical requirements, workers’ comp may deem you no longer disabled and stop your payments.
Once the doctor approves you to take a new job, you have to ask your new employer to honor any medical restrictions and accommodations that you require. After you’re sure you can handle the job with your medical condition, notify the workers’ comp insurance company of your new job. Let them know the full job description, your anticipated start date, and the pay you’ll receive. If the insurance company asks for more paperwork, complete and return the requested documents before beginning work.
If your new job pays less than what you were earning before your injury, you may continue receiving partial wage-loss benefits. In most cases, you will continue receiving medical benefits. The insurance company will require that you see an approved physician a certain number of times a year until you fully recover.
If your new job pays the same amount or more than what you received before your injury, workers’ compensation benefits will stop. Workers who were injured in Georgia but find a new job in a different state may also continue receiving benefits. Georgia’s workers’ comp law still applies even when you start working in a new state.
Can I take a second job while receiving workers’ comp benefits?
If you decide to take a second job to supplement your income, you need to let both employers know. Some companies have rules that restrict employees from taking a second job. These rules are intended to ensure that the employees will give their job their full focus.
Taking a second job may also indicate that you have the physical ability to work. To continue benefiting from workers’ comp, you have to show that the duties from your second job are lighter than and different from the requirements of your primary job. If your second job is less physically demanding, you may continue receiving your benefits. However, the doctor overseeing your treatment has to approve that you are fit to handle the second job.
If you already had a second job before your injury, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, taking a new second job will reduce the workers’ comp paid as the insurance company calculates your income. If the second job pays as much or more than your primary job before the injury, you may not receive any benefits.
A second job reduces the settlement value of a workers’ comp claim and may stop the benefits altogether.
Should you report your second job?
If you fail to report the income from a second job, you’ll be committing insurance fraud. The penalty for insurance fraud in Georgia is a fine between $1,000 and $10,000, up to 1 year of jail time or both. Again, failure to report an income above a certain amount is seen as tax fraud, and you could face tax penalties.
Note that some employers may hire private investigators to track your activities. If your workers’ comp claim is costly, an employer may try to ensure you don’t get compensation.
When to consult a Georgia workers’ comp lawyer
Georgia workers’ comp laws are complicated. A simple mistake can cause you to lose your compensation, leaving you and your family in financial turmoil.