Following a work-related injury, everyone involved wants to see the injured employee return to work as soon as they are able. In many cases, this can be accomplished by providing light or modified work at the original employer. For some companies, though, there simply isn't any appropriate work available.
In such a case, the employer may be able to offer work at a third-party such as a charity or other non-profit, paying the injured employee in exchange for their time volunteering. Often, this will be work that requires little physical activity, like placing telephone calls to members and donors. Returning to light work is generally good for workers who are able to do so, increasing confidence and making them more likely to return to full work as their recovery progresses. And it can be nice to know you're helping out a charity or organization doing good for others while focusing on your own recovery.
However, this type of return to work program can be abused by employers and insurance companies. The work available at these third-party non-profits is typically very simple, even approaching the level of "make-work" meant to just keep the employee busy. Often, it doesn't even relate to the field in which the employee trained and worked before their injury. This kind of work doesn't really contribute to the worker's recovery either, as it is often tedious and requiring little engagement.
By offering such work, though, the employer can reduce or eliminate their workers' compensation obligation. If the employee becomes too demoralized with the work, they may be more willing to settle for less money than they would otherwise be due. And if the worker quits, the employer is off the hook entirely.
If you believe that your employer is offering you funded employment as a way to get out of their workers' compensation obligation, you should consult with an attorney who has experience with workers' compensation cases and can protect your rights and benefits. Dugan & Associates specializes in workers' compensation law and is ready to take a look at your case. If you have questions, contact us for a free consultation.