The ultimate resource for beginner-to-advanced Work Comp pros looking to return injured employees back to work quickly, safely, and cost-effectively.
Return-to-Work Essentials is full of insights and strategy for professionals looking to hone their current skills and get up to speed on the latest Return-to-Work (RTW) policies and best practices. If you’re a corporate risk manager, business owner, WC program manager, insurance broker, service provider or agency, implementing our proven strategies & tactics will help you lower costs and achieve better outcomes.
Scroll through the sections below to build or refine your RTW policies and plans without the hiccups, headaches, and extra expense that arise from doing it alone.
RTW Program Integrates with Loss Mgmt. Program
Most employers realize a properly constructed Return-to-Work (RTW) program can have a major positive impact on the cost of workers compensation. The question we often hear is “Okay, we want a successful return to work program, but how is it done?”
Achieving a proficient return to work program requires EFFORT on the part of the employer beyond placing the injured employee back into his/her previous job with instructions “not to pick up anything heavy.” A properly constructed RTW program must be integrated into the overall loss management program. In addition, it must include an effective transitional duty program and an early return to work program.
What is Return-to-Work?
Return-to-Work programs focus on bringing employees back to work as soon as they are medically able. Employees who are out of work receive more medical treatment, so reducing lost time will reduce the cost of both lost wage payments and medical costs. Your organization’s Return-to-Work Programs and Transitional Duty Policies should include the proven steps to bring employees back to work sooner and the necessary post-injury response forms and documents.
Who Uses Return-to-Work?
When reviewing your best practices, it’s important for every employer to consider the development of a Return-to-Work policy. RTW is a complex issue that requires more than a mere moment of consideration, if you’re serious about reducing your WC costs and improving the outcomes for your injured workers. Doing so can and will substantially reduce your Workers’ Comp program costs.
Why Does Return-to-Work Matter?
To reduce the expense of Workers’ Comp insurance, your organization needs to have a long-term RTW strategy to reduce injuries, return injured workers as soon as possible, and ensure accuracy in its actual incurred losses.
Negative Consequences of Delayed Return to Work
From a human resources perspective, while it is jokingly everyone’s dream to stay at home and watch TV during the day, a vast majority of injured employees who do not have a return to work option demonstrate the negative psychological consequences of prolonged recovery times. For employers, having an employee off due to a work injury reduces workplace efficiency and is a hidden cost on the bottom line. An effective Return-to-Work program reduces costs and makes the workplace more efficient.
BUILD YOUR RTW PROGRAM
Understand Your Current Injury Economics
From calculating your cost per full-time employee to determining your RTW ratio to knowing how many of your employees are out of work right now, this 3-part series of essential articles (plus additional calculators) provides you with the key factors to determine the true financial impact your workers’ injuries have on your bottom line.
Construct a Strategy Template for Your Return-to-Work Program
A Return-to-Work program is the strategic foundation of the Workers’ Compensation concept. It’s the master template upon which every other aspect of your Workers’ Comp policies are developed, because it provides both injured workers and employers the best possible outcome regarding health and finances.
This 3-part series of articles (and video) will show you how to construct and manage a successful RTW program that will support all of your other Work Comp efforts.
How to Build Your Return to Work Program
A successful transitional duty/return to work program is much more than having an injured employee answering the telephone or sweeping the floors. Unfortunately, too many employers see a transitional duty program, also known as a return to work program as a “make work” situation for both the employer and the injured employee. This approach to a return to work program often ends in frustration for both employer and employee. Read More
ACOEM 3-Part Return to Work Framework
One of the most fundamental goals in workers’ compensation is to return our injured employees to work and back to function. This article and video walk you through a 3-part (or 3-step) framework, written by ACOEM entitled Preventing Needless Work Disability, which you can use for nearly every single workers’ comp claim, when considering return to work for your injured employees. Read More & Watch Video
Ten Light Duty Work Ideas
So you have decided to provide some light duty or transitional work for injured workers to decrease wage loss expense. First of all, congratulations! This is the first step in decreasing claims costs. The wage expense in a comp claim is most usually the biggest cost, and any chance you have of decreasing that cost should be taken. But what should the workers do? What if they do not follow the rules and get hurt again? What if this light duty work hinders the rehab and recovery? Read More
Establish Your Transitional Duty Program
For a transitional duty program to be effective, it needs to be properly established BEFORE it’s needed. These articles will help you learn why, how, and where a transitional duty position should be designed for every current job within your company, along with additional tips and examples of success.
Recent RTW and Transitional Duty Articles
Click arrows to scroll through our latest articles about RTW and Transitional Duty.
Pros and Cons of Return-to-Work
The “pros” of a Return-to-Work program will be the reduction of WC costs by 20% to 50% and the positive injured worker outcomes. The “cons” of a Return-to-Work program will be determined by how well your team communicates with your key stakeholders, including employees, claim adjusters, physicians, nurses, physical therapists, medical managers, insurance carrier administrators, and third party administrators.
Communication is Key to RTW Program Success
At the end of the day, to minimize the negative impact of worker injuries across the board, your RTW program has to be clear and applicable to all employees, which comes down to communication. The only real way to lower your workers’ compensation premium is to lower your experience modification factor.
History of Workers’ Comp and Return-to-Work
In the early part of the twentieth century, “The Grand Bargain” was negotiated to provide injured workers “no-fault” compensation for economic losses associated with work-related injuries and deaths. The compromise gave birth to the legal notion that, in most cases, workers’ compensation is an injured worker’s exclusive remedy against an employer.
The system wasn’t working for employees, and it wasn’t working for employers, either. Wild swings in these awards and most employees not being compensated for their injuries, so they created this system and came up with the grand bargain… READ MORE & WATCH VIDEO
39 leading industry stakeholders—injured workers, employers, carriers, TPAs, injured worker’s attorneys, defense attorneys, medical providers, and state regulators—discuss important issues about where we are today and where we are going as an industry. WATCH VIDEO or READ TRANSCRIPT — DOWNLOAD DOCUMENTS
Covid-19 Issues for Return-to-Work
The COVID-19 pandemic is creating several challenges for members of the claim management team and other interested stakeholders. To overcome the challenge of effective claims handling, unlocking the power of technology and fostering an environment of responsiveness are key first steps. Manage any fear and anxiety within your organization through communication and expectations. Take the necessary steps to keep your employees safe, healthy and happy during the global health crisis.
For more information about this issue, visit the COVID-19 section of our blog.
RTW Courses, Certification, and Guidebook
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…
In January, Democratic state Rep. Sal Pace of Colorado introduced a bill designed to significantly restricted the use of surveillance on workers’ compensation claims. The bill, endorsed by the plaintiff’s bar and labor unions, would make surveillance nearly impossible by…
Trinity International Corp., a holding corporation for 89 other and various companies, recently reduced incurred workers’ compensation losses by 79%; medical costs by approximately 50% and 99% of injured employees returned to work within 10 days. Trinity teaches its divisions…
Trinity International Corp., (name changed) a holding corporation for 60+ companies, reduced incurred workers’ compensation losses by 60%; medical costs by approximately 50% and 99% of injured employees returned to work within 10 days. Trinity teaches its divisions to manage claims…
Trinity International Corp. (name changed), a holding corporation for 60 other and various companies, recently reduced incurred workers’ compensation losses by 60%; medical costs by approximately 50% and 99% of injured employees returned to work within 10 days. Trinity teaches…
PPD Claims in New York and Claim Strategy Effects on Employers The March 13, 2007 changes in the New York work comp law regarding permanent partial disability (PPD) claims will trigger radically new claims strategies. Employers should be aware of the…
When Returning Employees to Work Remember: It’s All Attitude Dissatisfied Employees The active-dissatisfied employee who is really unhappy with his/her situation will actively attempt to take advantage of the system. The proper response in attempting to return this person to…
When Returning Employee to Work Remember: It’s All Attitude There really is more than one way to return an injured employee to work. The difficult part is matching the right return-to-work strategy to the particular worker. Considering the personality and…
National RTW External Links
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- U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP)
- Federal Employees’ Compensation Program
- Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Program
- Federal Black Lung Program
- Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program
State-by-State & U.S. Territory External Links
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ALABAMA THRU NEBRASKA
- DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
NEVADA THRU WYOMING
- NEW HAMPSHIRE
- NEW JERSEY
- NEW MEXICO
- NEW YORK
- NORTH CAROLINA
- NORTH DAKOTA
- PUERTO RICO
- RHODE ISLAND
- SOUTH CAROLINA
- SOUTH DAKOTA
- WEST VIRGINIA
- Business Workers’ Compensation – Wyoming Dept. of Workforce Services
- Injured Workers Workers’ Compensation – Wyoming Dept. of Workforce Services
- FAQ for Workers
- Claims Overview
- Guide to Workers Compensation in Wyoming (PDF)
- Injured Worker’s Guide to Reporting an Injury (PDF)
- Employer’s Guide for Return to Work Program (PDF)
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.