Can I Work a Second Job While on Workers’ Comp in Virginia?
You can work a second job while on workers’ comp in Virginia if you meet certain conditions. Let’s break down several scenarios involving secondary jobs and new jobs that show what is possible and what pitfalls to avoid.
Scenario 1: I already had two jobs prior to injury. Can I keep working at my second job?
If your secondary job is within the work restrictions that your doctor has given, then yes, it’s possible to work the second job and keep receiving workers’ comp. However, if that job entails any task that even slightly violates your work restrictions, it’s best to halt your work there.
Let’s say, for example, that you worked as a warehouse worker for one company and as a call center phone agent for another company. You injured your back while lifting a heavy box at the warehouse, prompting your workers’ comp physician to restrict your lifting and walking activities. As your call center job does not involve these activities, you may be able to continue working there.
However, if your doctor also restricted the number of hours you can sit in a day, continuing your call center job – which requires long hours of sitting at a desk – may be seen as a violation. This could be a reason for the insurance company to stop your benefits, and your employer could also accuse you of fraud.
The safest thing you can do if you want to keep working at your second job is to consult first with your physician and with a workers’ comp lawyer. Ask your doctor for written notes on what you can and cannot do, and talk to your attorney about the possible consequences of your job decisions.
What happens to my workers’ comp benefits if I keep working at my second job?
Your medical and wage loss benefits should still continue, but you can expect a reduction based on the secondary income you are earning.
If I’m restricted from working my second job, will workers’ comp cover both jobs?
Yes, it’s possible for workers’ compensation to cover your loss of income from both jobs. Get the guidance of a workers’ comp lawyer to see how you can arrange this.
Note that you must report all your income when filing for workers’ compensation, which includes your earnings from your secondary job. Hiding your secondary earnings can lead to charges of workers’ compensation fraud.
Scenario 2: My current employer cannot offer me light-duty work that fits my restrictions. Should I look for another job?
The answer to this depends on whether you have an Open Award for wage loss benefits.
If you have an Open Award, it means the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission has officially granted you wage loss benefits. You don’t have to look for another job in order to receive these payments.
On the other hand, if your workers’ comp claim is still pending, it means you don’t yet have an Open Award. In this case, you must show the Commission that you are actively seeking light-duty work outside your current company. The Commission has guidelines on what they consider to be “good faith” job search, and you’ll want to speak with an attorney to ensure you abide by the guidelines.
Scenario 3: Can I quit my current job and get a new one while on workers’ comp?
If your physician has restricted you from doing any kind of work, you should not take on a new job. If you do, you will be in violation of your medical restrictions and likely lose your right to wage loss benefits. You may be able to look for a new job in anticipation of your return to the labor market, but always get the advice of your attorney before making any career decisions.
If your doctor has cleared you for light-duty work, you are allowed to resign and look for a new job, but be aware that this can have implications on your workers’ comp.
Changing to a new job won’t affect your medical benefits (which are in effect for a lifetime), but it could risk your wage loss payments. If your current employer offered you a suitable light-duty position but you opted to quit, it may be construed as a “refusal of selective employment.” This could damage your eligibility for wage loss benefits.
You may accept your current employer’s light-duty offer and then change your job later. Make sure, however, that your new work is within your medical restrictions. Note also that if you’re earning less at your new job, your new employer is not responsible for adding anything to your wage loss payments.
Again, it’s wise to get your doctor’s clearance and your attorney’s counsel anytime you are making decisions about your job while on workers’ comp. Insurance carriers can use any simple misstep on your part to reduce or end your work injury benefits. Protect your rights by getting experienced legal guidance.
Talk to an Experienced Workers’ Comp Lawyer in Virginia
Attorney Jaleh K. Slominski has been an ally of Virginia workers for over 25 years now. She has helped numerous clients obtain maximum benefits for their on-the-job injury, even in complex cases where secondary jobs are involved.
If you have a complicated workers’ comp claim, or if you’re concerned about whether your work comp benefits will continue, talk to Attorney Slominski. She can provide smart legal advice and advocate for you. Schedule your consultation by calling (434) 384-9400 (in Lynchburg) or (540) 554-3762 (in Roanoke).