With our society’s turn towards the “gig” economy, is it time to change the way we think about return to work options for injured workers? Ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft provide flexible hours; are less physically demanding than many other positions; and may have fewer “start up costs” and barriers to entry than other part time positions.
Most injured workers possess a driver’s license. Many of them maintain the ability to drive their personal vehicle safely, despite injuries which might keep them from performing the physical tasks they were asked to perform at their former position of employment.
As with all things, however, there are some potential complications. Among other considerations, what happens if the injured worker is involved in an accident? If the injured worker was involved in an employer approved vocational rehabilitation program at the time of the accident, there is the possibility that the employer could be open to third-party liability. That’s certainly a risk that could be covered by insurance, and perhaps the potential benefit of getting injured workers back to work quickly outweighs those potential downsides.
Also, how do you deal with an application for working wage loss compensation from an injured worker who is self-employed as an Uber or Lyft driver? The potential for the injured worker to voluntarily limit their income certainly exists. But how can the employer know that is really the case? How would the Industrial Commission determine, if it felt that the injured worker was voluntarily limiting his or her income, to what degree any working wage loss request should be reduced?
This post does not attempt to answer those questions, just to raise them, and see if any of you have dealt with these kinds of issues in the past. If so, please e-mail me or leave a comment on the blog. Please also take a look at the attached article in the Louisiana Comp Blog for some insightful thoughts about this relatively new option for returning injured workers to the workforce.