I am permanently disabled from my former job as a result of a work-related injury, but I am able to work. Is my former employer required to provide me with vocational retraining?
In New Jersey, an employer is not required to provide vocational rehabilitation to an injured worker who is no longer able to perform his or her former job. While this is a benefit in many other States, such a benefit is not available in New Jersey. This is often quite upsetting to workers who find themselves out of work due to a work related injury and who lack the skills to perform other work. While unemployment might be available for a period of time, this is not a permanent solution.
While our Worker’s Compensation Act does not provide for Vocational Rehabilitation, New Jersey does have a Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) within the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The DVRS provides services to individuals with physical or mental disabilities to find jobs. Such services may include vocational counseling and guidance, placement services, skills training, educational services and various other programs.
In some situations, if a Judge of Compensation feels an injured worker might benefit from these services, he or she may make what is known as a bench referral to the DVRS. Keep in mind, however, that qualifications for these programs do exist. Each worker’s situation is different, and not all may qualify.
Anyone with concerns about such programs should be represented by a qualified worker’s compensation attorney. The attorneys in the Worker’s Compensation Department here at Stark & stark are experience in these matters and ready to help.