Definition of Alternative Work
Alternative work is a new job that an employer offers an injured worker when that worker is not able to do the job that they were doing before their injury. It is work that an injured worker is able to do with their work restrictions. This is when an injured worker is able to return to what is known as light duty, modified or alternative work. In most states, when an injured worker who has filed for workers' compensation benefits is declared by the treating doctor to be able to return to light duty or alternative work, the employer is required to return the worker to the job that they had before their injury or an equivalent job if such a position is available.
In some states, accepting alternative work that is offered by your employer may mean that you will still need to be paid workers' compensation benefits in order to make up the difference for what you would have earned in the position that you had before your injury if you had fully recovered. One thing to keep in mind when deciding whether to accept your employer's offer of alternative work is that in some states this may affect your permanent disability benefits, causing them to decrease. For example, in California, accepting alternative work will decrease your permanent disability benefits by 15 percent.
Other requirements concerning alternative work vary from state to state.