Third-party Return to Work Providers specialize in placing injured employees in a job when the employer is unable to provide light duty / modified duty work for the employee. In most instances, the Return to Work provider places the injured employee with a light-duty work release in a position with a non-profit/charitable organization. Both the injured employee and the non-profit organization know the employee’s placement in the transitional duty position is temporary.
Place Injured Workers in Modified Duty at Alternate Company
The transitional duty position allows the employee to work productively, within the work restrictions set by the medical provider, while recovering from his/her injury. When the employee is kept working, the employee retains the discipline needed to be in a workplace. Also, it has been shown that employees who return to work light duty recuperate faster than employees who stay home until fully recovered.
While it is always the best idea for the injured employee to return to work light duty / modified duty with their own employer, that is not always possible. Some jobs which require extensive manual labor cannot be modified enough to make it worthwhile for the employer to return the employee to work before they have a full duty release. Other jobs, for instance, long-distance truck drivers, have limited need for any additional employees at their facilities, making employer provided light-duty work difficult or impossible.
Charitable Organizations Are Great Option
These situations are ideal for a third party return to work provider. The charitable organizations they deal with – Salvation Army, Goodwill, YMCA, food banks, etc., have a constant need for employees. Sorting donated clothes or cans of food can be done sitting down or standing up and alternating sitting/standing as needed – whatever the medical provider prescribes. The jobs can be completed without bending, twisting, kneeling, etc. The lifting will be within even the strictest lifting restrictions of 5 pounds.
The charitable organization will pay the employee an hourly rate for the work the employee does. Suppose the weekly amount earned at the charitable organization is greater than the employee’s average weekly wage. In that case, the employee will not receive any disability payments while working the transitional duty job. Suppose the amount earned at the charitable organization is less than the amount earned on the employee’s regular job. In that case, the employee is paid temporary partial disability (which will be significantly less than temporary total disability) in most states.
In some cases, the charitable organization cannot afford to pay the employee any wages. In those situations, the employer can continue to pay the employee either his /her regular wages or a reduced wage with the insurance claim paying temporary partial disability. Whenever the employer continues any wages while the employee is working for the charitable organization, the employer is able to write-off the cost on their taxes as a charitable contribution.
Many Benefits for Employer
In addition to lowering or eliminating the amount of disability payments while the employee is recuperating from his/her injury, the transitional duty job will assist both the employer and the employee in several ways, including:
- The employee does not get accustomed to sitting home and not working
- The employee maintains a sense of self-esteem by working for a living
- The transitional duty job fosters a faster recovery, reducing the amount of medical benefits paid
- The transitional duty job reduces the amount of deconditioning most employees experience when not working
As almost all employers know that a return to work program is beneficial to the both the employer and the employee, the question often becomes “How much does a third party return to work provider charge for their services?” The answer varies. Some third-party return to work providers charge a flat fee for their services, often in the $1,000 range. Other return to work providers will have a sliding scale of fees, with the amount of the fee being based on the number of job placements they do.
Occasionally, there is the injured employee who just doesn’t want to return to work, period. If the third party return to work provider arranges for the employee to work at a charitable organization, and the employee does not show up, the third party return to work provider will normally reduce their fee to half or there about.
Third-Party Return to Work Providers Should Always be Considered
Third-party return to work providers saves the employer money on the cost of workers’ compensation. They also benefit the employer by getting the employee back to work faster and being productive for the employer. The use of third party return to work providers should be considered any time the employer is unable to offer the injured employee a modified duty or light duty job.
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 co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:.
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