Employee Rights Group - Maine

Thank you for all your help on [AW's] case. Without you, nothing would have come from it. We will be sending people your way. We hope that we will not need your help again, but if we do you will be hearing from us.”

- J.W., East Machias.

Offers of Suitable Work

Employers know that an offer of suitable work is a powerful weapon in workers' compensation cases and that refusal of suitable work is grounds for suspending payment of lost time benefits under the statute. However, certain criteria must be met. The job offered must be one that you are qualified for and can physically perform without posing a threat to your health and safety. It must be a reasonable distance from home. If those criteria are met, then refusal must be "for good cause." Whether good cause exists for refusing suitable work is determined objectively, on a case-by-case basis. The Board will consider the timing of the offer, whether you have moved and your reasons for moving, whether you have found other work, and "whether the effort, risk, sacrifice or expense is such that a reasonable person would not accept the offer."

The statute does not specify that the offer must be in writing but as a practical matter it should be so that you have sufficient information to determine whether the job is suitable. Your employer may send you a certified letter instructing you to report for light duty on a certain date, without providing any information as to what the job entails, the physical requirements, etc. You are entitled to have your doctor review the job offer and modify it, or reject it, if appropriate.