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Pandemic Workers Comp Return To Work Conundrum Question


Pandemic Workers Comp Return To Work Question To Our Article Readers

The tables have turned with me publishing a pandemic workers comp return to work (RTW) question for our great and intelligent audience.

Pandemic Workers Comp Return to Work vs Vaccine Hesitancy

pic of rotavirus pandemic return to work

Wikimedia public use license

One of our great agency clients has run into this situation recently.  Please feel free to comment with your opinion or call or email me.  Any comment will remain completely anonymous. Let us set up the scenario for this unique(?) question.   I am combining quite a few scenarios

  1. An injured employee who was rather devout to his/her employer sustained a compensable Workers Comp claim in 2019 after falling from one level to another.  This type of injury can be serious.
  2. The claimant was given a full-duty return to work slip from the authorized treating physician.  This was not an IME. The physician was an industrial-minded renowned orthopedic surgeon.
  3. The employee is not represented by legal counsel (yet).
  4. The recovery did take some time to accomplish due to bilateral heel fractures. (ouch!)
  5. The employer was emboldened by the recent legislation and law changes.  They asked the employee to obtain at least one vaccination and then wait two weeks before returning to work.  The employer treats their injured employees well while out of work.
  6. The returning employee refuses to obtain any type of vaccine.  This was not a politically motivated decision.  They had a bad reaction to a swine flu vaccine in 2010.
  7. The employer has said they cannot accommodate the employee to work alone as this is a manufacturing plant that stayed in production through the pandemic.
  8. Workers Comp benefits had been paid timely to the employee.  They even remarked that all parties in their claim treated them fairly.
  9. The injured employee is expecting benefits to be paid weekly until the accommodation can be made for him/her.
  10. The employer thinks the injured employee’s benefits should be suspended as technically their workers’ comp injury is not preventing them from an RTW.
  11. The claims adjuster will soon remove the employee from only the weekly TTD benefits.  Their claim is still open and payable.   A permanency rating is pending.


The agent and employer have asked me to weigh in on how to proceed with the claim.   I am not giving legal advice to them.  I would be giving workers comp risk management advice only.

What To Do With a Valued Employee’s Claim

Covid19 vaccine pandemic workers comp with syringe
Wikimedia Commons – Arne Müseler

I have had two Pfizer jabs.  I did not want to let that influence my advice.   The swine flu reaction by the injured employee complicates this decision.   As I have combined a few claim scenarios, the claim is not state-specific.

Another article will be published or an update to this one after the pandemic workers comp return to work vaccine situation resolves shortly.  Let me know what you think.


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James J Moore - Workers Comp Expert

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Management Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications


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