Wouldn’t It Be Great If Return To Work Was A Law?


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Hey there, Michael Stack here, CEO of AMAXX. So, one of the things we hear a lot about in Workers’ Compensation is state law reforms. Now, you may be wondering yourself, or you may have wondered to yourself, or at least at some point, wouldn’t it be great if there was a law, if there was legislation that required the one thing that we know makes the most impact on Workers’ Compensation claim outcomes. Drives down Workers’ Compensation costs, improves the outcome for the injured worker, and drastically reduces injury durations, which is Return-to-Work.



Americans with Disabilities Act Has Significant Workers’ Comp Implications


Well, I’m here to tell you today, I’m here to open up your eyes if you weren’t aware of it, that there is a law, and it’s called the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA. It was created by Congress in 1990. What it is, is a civil rights law. It protects what is covered or technically termed a qualified individual with a disability from discrimination in the workplace. But, what you might not be aware of is that most of your employees who are injured at work fall under the umbrella of a qualified individual with a disability and are covered by the ADA. I’m gonna say that again. Most of your employees who are injured at work fall under the umbrella of a qualified individual with a disability, and they’re covered by the ADA.


Now, if you weren’t aware of that to this point, you need to be aware of it. As an employer, it’s something you need to be educated on. But the best practices, and the good news is that the best practices of Workers’ Compensation, Return-to-Work best practices, and ADA compliance are very much parallel to each other. So, if you’re following one, you’re likely following the other.



ADA & Return to Work Best Practices


What I want to do today is cover some of these very basic ADA and Return-to-Work best practices terms, and have you now start to recognize how you can tie and marry these two together to create better compliance with the ADA and create better Return-to-Work outcomes.


So, let’s talk about what these terms mean. You’ve got the Interactive Process, Reasonable Accommodation, and then Light Duty and how it applies. So, under the ADA law, a qualified individual with a disability, you’re required to engage in what is called the Interactive Process. Now, that kind of sound like a very legal and sort of overwhelming and complicated term, but all it really means is you’re having a conversation. You’re having a conversation, interacting with that employee and talking about what it is that they have going on, and how you could potentially accommodate their job to have them do the essential functions of that job. Now, essential functions, again, another legal sounding term, but when you break it down it’s just really the things that are most important in that job. You’re a forklift driver, can you drive the forklift or not? And can we accommodate your job in order for you to be able to do that? It’s very basic level, that’s all it means. So, you’re having this conversation in order for you to create together as an employer and as an employee this accommodation for them to do their essential functions of the job.


Now, let’s talk about Light-Duty and how it relates to this and how this Workers’ Comp process relates to this. In the ADA and how this sort of differs but how it sort of parallels each other, is that there’s a requirement under the law that they could do the essential functions. There’s no expectation. There is no law requiring them to do a lower amount of job or sort of a reduced output. Now, this is the biggest difference between Return-to-Work, Best Practices, and Light-Duty, is that the ADA requires by law for them to do the essential functions of that job. In Light-Duty, in Return-to-Work best practices often that output is slightly reduced. Or can be slightly reduced, and you’re giving and taking that improved injury duration, that improved cost, that improved outcome for that injured worker. You’re able to give up some of those essential functions and certain occasions in a Return-to-Work process, but in the ADA you’re not.



ADA & Workers’ Comp Best Practice Require a Conversation


But let’s take a look at this. Let’s take a look at these best practices and let’s take a look at how you’re creating these jobs under federal law and now how this can all sort of start to tie together and make some sense. In the ADA law, you’re required to have a conversation. Best practices in Workers’ Compensation management require you or recommend that you have a conversation, but it all comes down to this idea of working together with your employees to get them back to work. It’s required under federal law. It’s Workers’ Compensation best practices. So, if you could put this perspective around this idea of following these best practices, following ADA law, you will be significantly better off in both your Work Comp program as well as your ADA compliance.


Again, I’m Michael Stack, CEO of AMAXX. Remember, your work today in Workers’ Compensation can have a dramatic impact on your company’s bottom line. But it will have a dramatic impact on someone’s life. So, be great.




Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .


Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: https://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/


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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.


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