On May 26, 2015 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in School District of Philadelphia v. WCAB (Hilton) clarified when an employer must use a Notice of Ability to Return to Work form (LIBC-757) by holding that it is not required in the claim petition setting where no liability has been acknowledged for the injury alleged. This is in contrast to other settings where an injury has been acknowledged and the employer seeks to modify or change the status of benefits. Previously the Commonwealth Court had suggested that the use of the notice was mandatory in Allegis Group v. WCAB (Henry) and Hoover v. WCAB (Harris Masonry, Inc.). Claimant’s attorneys had often used the absence of the Notice of Ability to Return to Work form to defeat employer’s efforts to limit wage loss exposure in the claim petition setting.
Many proactive employers would quickly act upon restrictions from a panel physician in an attempt to keep employees working. Offers of restricted employment were made the day the restrictions were received. The scenario suggested by the claimant’s bar would require that the Notice of Ability to Return to Work form be issued each time restrictions changed and that any discussions of continued employment would have to wait until it had been confirmed that the notice was received.
This is simply illogical and ignores the fact that the notice came in to being where earning power assessments were involved and were designed to give the employee notice that attempts were being made to modify an existing entitlement.
It is still a good idea to provide as much documentation as possible including job offers even if they are confirmations of direct conversations which had previously taken place and medical reports documenting restrictions. It is best to provide as much detail as possible to the employee in the anticipation of future litigation.