Amongst the confusion of legal jargon, rumors, and hearsay, it can be difficult to know what information about Pennsylvania workers’ compensation is true and what isn’t. Below are 4 commonly held beliefs about workers’ compensation law that, despite what others may say, are not true.
1. Part Time Workers Are Not Covered Under Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation
This is simply not true. Employers can make decisions regarding benefits such as vacation time and health insurance when it comes to full and part time employees. However, this is not the case with workers’ compensation. Nearly all workers in Pennsylvania (with only a few exceptions) are entitled to workers’ compensation in the event that they are hurt on the job.
2. Employers Can Fire Someone for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
In the state of Pennsylvania, there are laws that restrict employers from firing employees for unjust reasons (for example, religion and race). Pennsylvania law also does not allow employers to fire an employee for the sole reason that he or she has filed a workers’ compensation claim. This is called a retaliation claim. Simply stated, the employer can not fire an employee for simply filing a workers' compensation claim in order to "get back at" or punish the employee for filing such a claim.
3. If an Employer Offers Alternative (or Light Duty) Work, the Employee Has the Option of Turning it Down
Employers cannot make employees perform work that falls within their medical restrictions. However, if an employer offers work that is approved by a doctor, the injured worker is required to accept it. Say, for example, a construction worker has a broken leg. The doctor has ordered that they not perform any duties that involve standing up. In turn, the employer requests that, while you under medical restrictions, they work from an office answering phones at a desk. As long as they are medically allowed to do this type of work, they are required to accept the offer. In this circumstance, if the employee refuses the offer of light duty work, the injured worker's entitlement to ongoing wage loss benefits will be either suspended or modified depending upon the amount of wages that the light duty job would pay.
4. Workers are Only Entitled to Workers’ Compensation if They Are Injured on Company Property
It is commonly believed that workers’ compensation only covers injuries that take place on company property. If this were the case, many carpenters, construction workers, and other laborers would not be covered. If the injury took place while the worker was doing something work-related, it is covered under workers’ compensation, regardless of whether or not it was on company property.
Workers’ comp law can be confusing. If you have a question regarding workers’ compensation or think you have been wrongfully denied workers’ compensation benefits, contact an experienced Harrisburg, Pa. certified workers’ compensation specialist attorney immediately.