Is your light duty job offer valid?
Injured workers will frequently be offered light duty work if a doctor has given the injured worker industrial restrictions that the employer is able to accommodate. However, there are requirements of the work regarding the light duty job offer. There is a specific statute that dictates what is required in order for the light duty job offer to be valid.
Nev. Rev. Stat. 616C.475(8) states in relevant part that if the certification of disability specifies that the physical limitations or restrictions are temporary, the employer at the time of the employee’s accident may offer temporary, light-duty employment to the employee. If the employer makes such an offer, the employer shall confirm the offer in writing within 10 days after making the offer.
Any offer of temporary, light-duty employment made by the employer must specify a position that: (a)Is substantially similar to the employee’s position at the time of his or her injury in relation to the location of the employment and the hours the employee is required to work; (b)Provides a gross wage that is: (1)If the position is in the same classification of employment, equal to the gross wage the employee was earning at the time of his or her injury; or (2)If the position is not in the same classification of employment, substantially similar to the gross wage the employee was earning at the time of his or her injury; and (c)Has the same employment benefits as the position of the employee at the time of his or her injury. NRS 616C.475(8).
A common issue litigated is what “substantially similar” means. For example, the retail worker that works 9-5 as a cashier at the store in Summerlin would have to be offered a substantially similar position. The injured worker should generally expect the same hours and the same location if the retailer were to offer a valid light duty job offer. This does not generally mean that any deviation or change from the original hours and location make the light duty job offer invalid. However, if the retailer were to offer graveyard hours and a location in Green Valley, this light duty job offer would likely not comport with the law, making it invalid. Furthermore, simply offering the same amount of hours is not substantially similar either. Just because the retailer offered 8 hours of work, does not mean they are compliant. The question becomes what location and hours would be substantially similar. This can depend upon the circumstances, number of locations, and even hours of operation.
Recently, the wages paid has become a frequently litigated issue. The law states that if the employer offers a light duty job that is in the same “classification” of employment as the job performed at the time of injury, the wages must be equal to the wages at the time of injury. This typically will mean performing the same job. If the injured worker is not doing the same job (for example the retailer cashier above was asked to be a custodian), then the wages paid must be “substantially similar.”
Substantially similar in the context of wages paid on light duty also is being litigated more often. Industry standard will generally pay 80% of the average monthly wage on light duty if the employer has reduced the wages. See NRS 616C.590. If the employer is going to offer the same rate of pay for light duty, employers will generally only offer a certain amount of hours, which equal 66 2/3% of the average monthly wage. See NRS 616C.475.
Although this seems simplistic, it is not. Light duty work and wages can be very tricky, with various issues ripe for litigation. Injured workers should seek an experienced Attorney regarding the validity of their light duty job offer. The experienced Attorney will not only be able to give guidance on this process, but also all other laws associated with work injuries.