Several workers' lawyers have told me that some employers and workers' compensation insurers in their cases are trying to misuse the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Act return to work provisions to their benefit and the detriment of the injured worker.
I've been told that after a worker is injured the employer or workers' compensation insurer will find a charity and force the injured worker to volunteer for the charity. The employer pays the injured worker while he or she "volunteers" for the charity. This arrangement benefits the employer because it can prevent or minimize a future increase in the employer's workers' compensation insurance premium.
The workers' compensation insurer gets a significant benefit because this arrangement reduces the amount of money the workers' compensation insurer pays to the injured worker because the wage received for "volunteering" can zero out or greatly reduce the weekly money benefit due to the injured worker.
There is also a more serious hidden risk to the injured worker. If the injured worker unreasonably quits the "volunteer" work, the workers' compensation insurer theoretically can reduce or zero out the injured worker's weekly money benefit. The same can happen if the charity fires the injured worker.
The reduction or zeroing of the injured worker's weekly money benefit can theoretically extend for months and even years into the future.
If you are injured at work or injured on the job and your employer tries to impose this return to work arrangement on you, please contact me immediately. Do not wait until something bad happens.