One of the policy goals of the New Mexico Workers' Compensation system is to try to return as many injured workers as possible back to gainful employment.
Section 52-1-50.1 of the Act is one way for an injured worker to return to work after a work injury. You can read Section 52-1-50.1 by going to http://www.workerscomp.state.nm.us/WCA-Rules-and-Statutes. From there you can go to the New Mexico Supreme Court website where you can search for Section 52-1-50.1 and read it.
In short, the employer of an injured worker has to re-employ the worker if he or she can meet the following exists:
- The employer is hiring;
- The worker's pre-injury job is available or modified work is available, OR a job that pays less than the pre-injury job is available;
- The worker's treating doctor certifies that the injured worker can do the available (a written statement is best);
- The injured worker applies for the job.
Unfortunately, injured workers do not take advantage of Section 52-1-50.1 as often as they should. Even when they do, employers will sometimes try to avoid having to comply. A Workers' Compensation Judge can enforce Section 52-1-50.1 and order an employer to rehire an injured worker if he or she meets the requirements.
If you try to use Section 52-1-50.1 to return to work for the employer, you must keep copies of all job postings you applied, the job applications, and any emails or correspondence from the employer regarding your applications.
If the employer refuses to re-hire you do not give up. Filing a complaint to enforce Section 52-1-50.1 is often successful.
If you're interested in trying to use this section of the Act to return to work, contact me. I may be able to help.