The Commission recently departed from past precedent regarding temporary transitional employment (TTE) and held that a claimant was not entitled to TTD benefits after his refusal to report to a transitional work assignment. In Stegan v. Reladyne, LLC, claimant was released to light duty work following an injury. Because the employer, Reladyne, could not accommodate the restrictions, a transitional employment firm was retained and located TTE within his restrictions at a non-profit. Claimant was advised, in writing from Reladyne, of this work assignment and that he would remain an employee of Reladyne, receive his regular salary, and remain bound by Reladyne’s human resources and attendance policies while on assignment at the non-profit.
Following claimant’s refusal to report for work at the non-profit, the matter proceeded to trial on a “reverse” 19(b) petition on the issue of whether claimant was entitled to ongoing TTD. The Commission found that TTD terminated on the day claimant failed to present to the non-profit. The Commission reasoned that, “absent an argument that [the place of TTE] is objectively too far from [claimant’s residence] to make the endeavor cost-effective or that the work asked of him there is outside the prescribed work restrictions, the Commission is not particularly sympathetic to [claimant’s] position.” As claimant was to be paid his full salary by Reladyne, remained their employee, and was subject to their human resources and attendance policies, the Commission concluded that claimant’s refusal to report for the TTE assignment disqualified him from entitlement to TTD benefits.
For now, the Commission will entertain TTE as a bona fide job offer and if refused, may terminate TTD. Any TTE offer should envision the following:
The TTE assignment is within the work restrictions of the treating physician;
The TTE assignment is in reasonable proximity to the Injured Worker’s(IW) residence;
Payment is by respondent at the IW’s average weekly wage at the time of injury;
The IW remains an employee of respondent and answerable to their HR department and beneficiary of their policies and procedures; and
The TTE assignment does not offend recognized and protected beliefs– that is, is a bona fide offer of employment.
Issues that should also be addressed include whether the IW is a traveling employee while on the TTE assignment and if the TTE assignment creates a loaning/borrowing relationship.
The case is now on appeal at the Circuit Court. We would caution reliance on this decision as a basis for termination of benefits pending the outcome on appeal. If you have any questions, please contact any attorney at Wiedner and McAuliffe by email or phone at 312-855-1105.