Employers who successfully manage their workers compensation cost understand the importance of a strong Return to Work program. When an employee returns to work as soon as he is medically able, the indemnity payments are decreased, the medical and rehabilitation cost are lower and there is less of a productivity drop for the employer. Returning to work sooner also benefits the employee by restoring a higher level of income, providing a faster physical recovery and promoting the emotional health of the employee.
All of the following suggestions may not apply if you already have a solid return to work program. Utilize the suggestions, recommendations and tips that will improve your Return to Work Program. (WCxKit)
1. ALL transitional duty/modified duty assignments should be temporary. If the transitional duty assignments become permanent assignments, you may create some bogus claims as employees seek the “easier job with the same pay”.
2. Be sure both the employee and the supervisor know and abide by the limitations and restrictions the medical provider has placed on the employee’s light duty work. This will keep the employee from being reinjured and will keep the employee from quitting the light duty job because of the employer’s non-compliance with the light duty restrictions.
3. Make the transitional duty program a part of the business culture. When employees know all injured employees are accommodated and required to work light duty, it eliminates resistance to the return to work program and it reduces the number of bogus claims made for financial reasons.
4. If you have multiple shifts, place the employee on the day shift while they are in the transitional duty program. This allows for easier monitoring of the work the transitional duty employee is performing.
5. Keep all parties involved in the transitional duty program including the employee, the employee’s regular supervisor, the temporary supervisor if different from the regular supervisor and the medical provider. All parties should be informed of any/all changes in the transitional duty work.
6. Work with the union steward to obtain the union’s buy-in of the modified duty positions assigned to the union members.
7. Accommodate the employee’s medical appointments and physical therapy appointments. Pay the employee their regular pay for the time they are at the doctor’s office or the physical therapy facility.
8. Always be on the lookout for jobs and work that could be done by an employee with physical restrictions. When the transitional duty job or task is identified, put the job description and work to be done in writing for when it will be needed.
9.. Do everything possible to keep the employee involved. Integrate the transitional duty position into the mainstream of operations to keep the employee from feeling isolated. Require the employee to attend all staff or unit meetings. Do not assign the employee to a transitional duty job that would be demeaning. (WCxKit)
10. Interview each employee when they are released by their medical provider to return to their regular duty job. Discuss with them what aspects of the transitional duty job they thought were beneficial, what aspects of the transitional duty job that should be changed and what ways could the transitional duty job be improved. You will obtain valuable feedback to make the Return to Work Program stronger and better.
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Contact: Mstack@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT GUIDEBOOK: www.WCManual.com
WORK COMP CALCULATOR: www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR: www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php
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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
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