Division I: Employers Get Reimbursement for First Three Days of Light Duty Incentive Program
So if you’re an injured worker, there’s a 3-day waiting period for time loss payments, pursuant to RCW 51.32.090(7). However, there’s also an incentive program to employers to keep you on light duty instead of time off work under RCW 51.32.090(4). So the question here is whether they get the incentive for the three days the injured worker would be on light duty but not able to qualify for wage loss.
Here’s the funny part. The court of appeals only has jurisdiction over civil actions that have more than $200 at play. This case? A whopping $168.12. However, is this a civil action? Nope. Its an appeal from an administrative agency decision. So the court of appeals can still weigh in on the case.
So, turning to the case itself. The statute limiting the first three days only talks about payment to injured worker. So you have to turn to legislative intent if the plan meaning is ambiguous. The statute for reimbursement says the incentive can be paid whenever "the employer of injury requests that a worker who is entitled to temporary total disability” engages in the program. The program has some restrictions in subsection (4)(c) of the statute, but doesn’t list anything about the three day portion of pay actually given to workers.
Here, the legislature didn’t use the term benefits or compensation, only a determination of temporary total disability. Thus, whether the worker gets the 3 day compensation has no bearing on whether the employer qualifies for the program.
Its a good holding for keeping Washington workers at work during a time of disability.
Allow Issaquah Legal Services to help your business navigate Worker’s Compensation and accident determinations. If you have been injured at work, feel free to call our Issaquah Attorneys us for a consultation.