An Act To Clarify Work Search Requirements for Workers' Compensation
Sec. 1. 39-A MRSA §214, sub-§1, ¶F is enacted to read:
The previous employer may rebut this presumption by providing evidence of the availability of alternative employment in the employee's community that is within the restrictions of the employee's partial incapacity. The employee may overcome this evidence of suitable alternative employment in the employee's community by demonstrating a lack of employment despite the employee's reasonable efforts to secure employment based on the evidence submitted by the previous employer of available suitable alternative employment in the employee's community.
Under current law, an injured worker who is only partially incapacitated by a workplace injury may be eligible for so-called 100% partial incapacity benefits if the worker is not working, as long as the worker can demonstrate that the lack of employment is due to the injury and that the worker has not been able to obtain employment, within the restrictions caused by the partial incapacity, despite an adequate work search. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court outlined the factors that must be considered when determining whether a work search by the injured worker is sufficient in the case Monaghan v. Jordan's Meats, 2007 ME 100, 928 A.2d 786.
This bill abrogates the current "work search rule" by placing the burden on the previous employer to demonstrate that there is suitable employment available to the injured worker in the worker's local community. If the previous employer has demonstrated suitable available employment, the injured worker may still be eligible for so-called 100% partial incapacity benefits if the worker can demonstrate continued unemployment despite reasonable efforts to secure the alternative employment identified by the previous employer.