Employers frequently do not grasp the true cost of workers’ compensation. Many employers mistakenly think that the cost of workers’ compensation insurance is the amount of premium paid to the work comp insurer, or if self-insured, the amount paid out in medical and indemnity benefits. These are the direct cost of work-related injuries. The indirect cost of on-the-job injuries is estimated to be three times the direct cost.
Return to Work Brings Employee Back During Medical Recovery
The loss of productivity is the primary indirect cost employers incur due to a job injury related absence. However, employers frequently continue to incur the cost of health insurance, accruing time for vacations / sick days and other employee benefits while the employee is off work. Overtime hours paid to other employees to make up part of the loss of productivity or time training a temporary or permanent replacement for the injured worker is also a part of the indirect cost.
Returns to work programs are designed to have the injured employee brought back to work during the employee’s medical recovery process. More and more companies are altering their return to work programs to include stay at work, a policy where all but the most critically injured employees are given modified duties, or even a totally new and different job to do immediately following the initial medical visit.
With a stay at work program, the employer’s workers’ compensation coordinator is on the phone contacting the medical provider during the time the injured employee is traveling from the accident scene to the medical provider. The medical provider is advised that the employer will provide the employee with modified duty within any medical restrictions including providing total sedentary work if needed. The work comp coordinator also requests the employee’s work restrictions to be provided immediately following the employee’s first medical visit for the injury.
A stay at work program incorporates modifications of the employee’s job description, modification of the employee’s work schedule, and changing of the employee’s work station location, if needed. By being totally flexible, the employer will limit the loss of productivity and maintain a high level of loyalty from the injured employee.
Significant Benefits From Stay at Work Program
An example of how a stay at work program impacts a worker’s compensation claim: The employee falls and incurs a simple, non-displaced fracture in his arm. The total medical recovery estimated at 3 months with six weeks in cast and six weeks of physical therapy to recondition the arm after wearing the cast. In most return to work programs the employee is back to work in 2-3 weeks following the first medical check-up with work restrictions on using the fractured arm. In the stay at work program, the employer on the day of the injury arranges with the medical provider for the employee to be released the same day, and the employee is provided sedentary work within the physical restrictions given by the doctor.
The integration of a stay at work program with the return to work program enhances the benefits obtained from having a return to work program. By reducing or eliminating the amount of time the employee is not working, the stay at work / return to work program creates the following benefits:
- No lost days or fewer lost days
- Higher productivity
- Higher employee morale as the employee sees the employer as trying to maintain the employee’s income level
- Higher profit for the employer
The proper use of an integrated stay at work / return to work program lowers overhead cost and increases profitability by lowering the overall cost of workers’ compensation. For more information on how to improve your stay at work / return to work program, please contact us.
Author 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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