The bottom line in any workers compensation situation is that the company needs its employees to get its work done.
Therefore, the top goal of any injury management policy must be getting your employees back to work – ideally in their original state of health. Coordinating organized systems to reach that goal will save your company money. However, the focus should always be on preventing and carefully managing injuries – not on saving a buck.
This focus will, however, save money!
When an employee is injured on the job, the employer’s goal is to return the employee to work as soon as the worker is medically able to return. This reduces the cost of lost wage indemnity payments which are approximately 50% of the cost of workers compensation claims.
Benefits for your company are:
- maintaining the services and skills of a trained employee
- improving employee retention
- minimizing claim costs
- keeping employees involved in workplace activities
Benefits for your injured employee are:
- maintaining the employee’s wage-earning power
- facilitating the employee’s return to productive work
- faster physical recovery that promotes emotional health
Goals for a Return-to-Work Program
An effective return-to-work program should return 95% of employees to work in a transitional duty capacity within one to four days after the injury. There is a direct correlation between the return-to-work percentage and the company’s cost savings.
How to Develop a Transitional Duty Return to Work Policy
First, adopt a corporate-wide injury management transitional duty policy describing how transitional duty will be implemented at your workplace.
This policy should include:
- The length of transitional duty assignments
- The circumstances under which employees will perform transitional duty
- The types of transitional duty offered
- The circumstances under which employees will be returned to regular work
Next, develop a job or task bank by identifying jobs or tasks for use in your injury management transitional duty program. Tasks or jobs will accommodate the injuries of employees out of work due to a work-related injury.
Not only will providing reasonable accommodations help get employees back to work sooner, they also might help the company avoid a discrimination lawsuit. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must make reasonable accommodations in job duties or employment policies so that employees with a disability can perform a job. These accommodations can be things like providing specialized equipment such as modified desks, wheelchair ramps or telephones. They might mean modifying job duties, such as providing light duty or changing non-essential job duties to accommodate the employee’s medical restrictions. Or, they might mean making accommodations in employment policies such as allowing an injured employee to take longer lunch hours to do physical therapy exercises. Luckily, the national Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has free resources available to help employers provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees. Their website is available at http://askjan.org/.
The Transitional Duty Cost Calculator
The Transitional Duty Cost Calculator shows transitional duty savings. It illustrates the savings a company can achieve by bringing employees back to work as soon as they are medically able. Our free calculator can be found at http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/tdc_calc.php.
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. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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