Properly Designing and Implementing Transitional Duty Program Ensures Success

 

Big Mistake is Designing Program After Employee is Injured

 

The biggest mistake employers make with a transitional duty program is having a “sorta” light duty program.  The employer recognizes a transitional duty program is an important way to reduce workers’ compensation cost and realize the importance of providing modified duty/light duty work for an injured employee, but does nothing about it until an injury employee is placed on light-duty work restrictions by the medical provider.

 

For a transitional duty program to be effective, it needs to be properly established.  This does not mean identifying a light duty job for the employee once an employee has been injured.  It means having a written policy on light duty work that is known to everyone in the company.  When there is a written policy of providing transitional duty work, every employee will know that a light duty or modified duty job will be available and required of them, if they are ever injured on the job.  The supervisors and managers within the company should be educated on the details of the transitional duty program so they can properly explain it to any employee who is injured.

 

A transitional duty position should be designed for every current job within the company.  The transitional duty job does not have to be in the same department as the injured employee’s original job.  It can be anywhere in the company.  The placement of the employee in a transitional duty position outside of the employee’s regular department is beneficial to the employee by broadening the employee’s skill base and knowledge of the company.  Any training the employee needs to accomplish the transitional duty job should be provided during the first days on the temporary job assignment.

 

 

Transitional Program Should be Understood Throughout Company

 

All employees should understand that transitional duty jobs are temporary and are not a new permanent assignment for the employee.  If the transitional duty is going to last more than 30 days, the employee should be moved to a second transitional duty job that allows for increased physical assertion, but still within the work restrictions set by the medical provider.  The employee should be clearly told that as soon as the medical provider clears them to return to their regular duty job, they will be required to do so.

 

The business partners who are involved in the handling of the workers’ compensation claim need to understand that transitional duty is required of all injured employees who are able to work in some capacity. The nurse case manager and the designated adjuster or dedicated adjuster(s) assigned to your work comp claims should understand that your company will return all injured employees to work as soon as the medical provider states what work restrictions are necessary.

 

The medical provider, whether employer selected or employee selected, should be advised there is a transitional duty job available to the injured employee. The medical provider should be given both a copy of the physical requirements of the employee’s regular job and a copy of the physical requirements of the transitional duty job that will be available to the employee. If it is a non-emergency situation, the physical requirements or the regular job and of the transitional duty job should be given to the medical provider prior to the first medical visit.  When this is not possible due to the need for immediate medical care, the physical requirements of both the regular duty job and the transitional duty job should be provide to the medical provider prior to the employee’s second medical appointment.

 

The employer should never allow the transitional duty job to interfere with the employee’s medical appointments, physical therapy appointments or other medical treatment.  The supervisor in charge of the transitional duty job position should be provided the date of the next medical appointment immediately following the most recently completed medical appointment to minimize the interruption in productivity of the department where the injured employee is working.

 

 

Properly Designed & Implemented Program Ensures Success

 

The work comp coordinator within your company should coordinate the transitional duty position with the employee, with the supervisor of the transitional duty position and with the medical provider to be sure everyone is on board.  Any issue that arises with the employee working in the transitional duty position can be addressed timely by the work comp coordinator.  The work comp coordinator should also verify that the transitional duty job meets the work restrictions set by the medical provider.

 

The establishment and implementation of the transitional duty program before it is needed is the key to a successful program.  By designing your transitional duty program to accommodate the needs of the injured employees, you will ensure the success of your transitional duty program.

 

 

 

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: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 


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

How to Measure Your Return to Work Program Success

 

For every day an injured employee is out of work, the cost of the workers’ compensation claim increases. Therefore, it is of critical importance to actively manage your claims using techniques designed to return injured workers to active work status as quickly as medically possible. This is true whether they return to active or modified duty. At the same time, you must be able to track and know exactly how well the return to work process is proceeding.
 
Return to Work (RTW) Ratio

How do you calculate whether injured employees are returning to work within an appropriate time frame or if they are out on comp for weeks at a time? The Return to Work Ratio (RTW) measures the effectiveness of your transitional duty program. The ratio calculates how long it takes employees suffering a lost time injury to return to work in either a transitional duty assignment or full duty. The RTW Ratio calculates total lost days and total claims to show the percentage of employees that have returned to work within the first few days after the injury. The RTW Ratio helps you categorize lost work days to ensure that employees aren’t off work too long.
The RTW Ratio accurately assesses how well your company manages the return to work process. The RTW Ratio allows you to calculate lost days quickly and see at a glance how well you are doing. The graphic visualization is helpful and motivational. Add new injuries to constantly update the ratio calculation to see how well you meet the goal of having 95% of employees returning to work within the first four days after an injury. Then you can take appropriate action as needed to improve your company’s rate of returning workers. You should also tell your broker when your RTW Ratio improves, as insurance carriers will want to know that you have made operational changes that will result in reduced workers’ comp losses.
For more about bringing employees back to work sooner see: http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com//employees-back-to-work-sooner.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: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

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

6 Strategies To Ensure Your Employees Return to Work

 

The Link between Worker’s Comp and the ADA
 
In 2009, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a record-setting consent decree settling a class action lawsuit against Sears, Roebuck and Co. under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for $6.2 million. The EEOC’s suit alleged that Sears maintained an inflexible workers’ compensation leave exhaustion policy and terminated employees instead of providing them with reasonable accommodations for their disabilities, in violation of the ADA. http://www.eeoc.gov/press/9-29-09.html.
This case highlights the importance of having a proactive return to work program that addresses the ADA accommodation requirements. When employees are injured on the job, employers must have a plan that addresses return to work options and ADA accommodations.
 
 
Return to Work Strategies
 
Normally, when employees are released to work following a worker’s comp injury, they will return to their previous position. However, employees may have an occupational injury or illness where they are released to work but can’t perform all of the essential functions of their regular job or need an accommodation.  
When creating return to work opportunities consider several strategies. Think “out of the box” in your approach to getting employees back to the workforce. There are many tasks to keep workers productive and involved in the workforce.
 
 
1-Prepare a physical binder
 
Create a binder full of alternative job descriptions within the company or sister companies that employees can easily access. Have Human Resources regularly update the binder with all job openings, full and part time, temporary and permanent. Make sure the supervisor and the employee are aware of the binder and regularly check it for openings.
 
 
2-Promote internal online job listing resources

As with the physical binder, make sure there is an on-line job listing resource that the employee can access. Email all job openings to the employee in addition to what is available in the physical binder.
 
 
3-Create a return-to-work resource center

Have your Human Resources Department encourage the injured employee that they are wanted back at work. Make sure that HR is a resource to support the employee in creatively finding a way to return to work, even if it is in another position more compatible with the employee’s limitations. Have HR consult with the employee about any reasonable accommodations that would make it possible for the employee to return to work in any available positions.  Have a written Return to Work Policy so that all management and supervisors understand the goals and methods of having employees successfully return to work.
 
 
4-Consider outside resources to accommodate transitional duty workers

Vocational rehabilitation (voc rehab). Voc rehab is a federally funded agency in every state that offers vocational rehabilitation, employment opportunities and independent living services for disabled people. The programs vary by state but may include medical, psychological and vocational assessments, counseling services, therapy, training, job placement and rehabilitation.
 
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides free consulting services to employers. Services include one-on-one consultation about all aspects of job accommodations, including the accommodation process, accommodation ideas, product vendors, referral to other resources, and ADA compliance assistance. https://askjan.org/empl/index.htm. JAN has several on-line tools and publications to help employers accommodate employees with a disability.
 
Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulates safety compliance in the workplace.  In some instances, OSHA safety regulations may prevent certain accommodation for an injured employee.  OSHA has a website that employers can consult for guidance.  Sometimes OSHA will publish bulletins with innovative safety accommodation ideas, e.g. how to safely accommodate employees with hearing loss injuries. http://www.osha.gov/dts/shib/shib072205.html.
 
 
5-Encourage volunteerism and partner with local employment agencies or volunteer groups to enhance workers’ options.

Often employers want to offer modified duty but do not have appropriate positions available.  Some states have Workers Compensation Funds that have partnered with charitable organizations to offer a return-to-work plan that provides modified duty for injured employees. These plans can lower claims costs, decrease workers’ compensation insurance costs and increase morale.
In addition, employers who do not have appropriate position available may want to partner with local employment agencies that may have appropriate temporary or permanent positions available for the employee.
 
 
6-Consider home-based employment
 
Telecommuting may be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA for an injured or ill worker. Have HR consult with the supervisor and the employee to see if there are any tasks that the employee can perform from home on a temporary or permanent basis.
 
 

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 mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

How To Get Employees Back to Work When You Do Not Have Suitable Job

 

Place Injured Workers in Modified Duty at Alternate Company
 
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. 
 
The transitional duty position allows the employee to work in a productive manner, 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.  If the weekly amount earned at the charitable organization is greater than the employee’s average weekly wage, the employee will not receive any disability payments while working the transitional duty job.  If the amount earned at the charitable organization is less than the amount earned on the employee’s regular job, 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 provider charge a flat fee for their services, often in the $750 to $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 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 mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

10 Tips to Improve Your Return to Work Program

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 cost are lower and there is less of a productivity drop for the employer.  Returning to work sooner also benefits the employee by restoring a higher level of income, providing a faster physical recovery and promoting the emotional health of the employee.

 
All of the following suggestions may not apply if you already have a solid return to work program.  Utilize the suggestions, recommendations and tips that will improve your Return to Work Program. (WCxKit)
 
 
1. ALL transitional duty/modified duty assignments should be temporary.  If the transitional duty assignments become permanent assignments, you may create some bogus claims as employees seek the “easier job with the same pay”.
 
 
2. Be sure both the employee and the supervisor know and abide by the limitations and restrictions the medical provider has placed on the employee’s light duty work.  This will keep the employee from being reinjured and will keep the employee from quitting the light duty job because of the employer’s non-compliance with the light duty restrictions.
 
 
3. Make the transitional duty program a part of the business culture.  When employees know all injured employees are accommodated and required to work light duty, it eliminates resistance to the return to work program and it reduces the number of bogus claims made for financial reasons.
 
 
4. If you have multiple shifts, place the employee on the day shift while they are in the transitional duty program.  This allows for easier monitoring of the work the transitional duty employee is performing.
 
 
5. Keep all parties involved in the transitional duty program including the employee, the employee’s regular supervisor, the temporary supervisor if different from the regular supervisor and the medical provider.  All parties should be informed of any/all changes in the transitional duty work.
 
6. Work with the union steward to obtain the union’s buy-in of the modified duty positions assigned to the union members. 
 
 
7. Accommodate the employee’s medical appointments and physical therapy appointments.  Pay the employee their regular pay for the time they are at the doctor’s office or the physical therapy facility.
 
 
8.  Always be on the lookout for jobs and work that could be done by an employee with physical restrictions.  When the transitional duty job or task is identified, put the job description and work to be done in writing for when it will be needed.
 
 
9.. Do everything possible to keep the employee involved.  Integrate the transitional duty position into the mainstream of operations to keep the employee from feeling isolated. Require the employee to attend all staff or unit meetings.  Do not assign the employee to a transitional duty job that would be demeaning. (WCxKit)
 
 
10.  Interview each employee when they are released by their medical provider to return to their regular duty job.  Discuss with them what aspects of the transitional duty job they thought were beneficial, what aspects of the transitional duty job that should be changed and what ways could the transitional duty job be improved.  You will obtain valuable feedback to make the Return to Work Program stronger and better.
 
 
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. Contact Mstack@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com. 

 
WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT GUIDEBOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contactInfo@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Keys to OFF-SITE Return To Work Programs

AXIOM:  The sooner an employee returns to work from a workers' compensation injury, the lower the overall cost of the workers’ comp claim will be.

Numerous documented studies show there is a definite correlation between time off work due to a work related injury and the employee's chances of continuing employment with your company.

Per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

An employee who has been off work for 6 months has a 50% chance of ever returning to work.

An employee who been off work for a year has a 25% chance of returning to work.

Employees off work for more than 2 years rarely ever return to work.

However, employees who return to work in less than 7 days have almost a 100% chance of continuing their employment.

A well-managed modified duty return-to-work program can have a sizable impact on the cost of your workers' compensation program. These short-term programs expedite the employee's return to work by facilitating limited duty or modified duty for employees with a temporary condition preventing them from performing their regular duties. 

A common myth is: Employees are reluctant to return to work on modified duty. While this may be true in a few cases, much more often it is the employer who is the reluctant one when it comes to having a modified duty program.

Supervisors who are not educated about the benefits of a return-to-work program or the true cost of workers' compensation often see modified duty as an inconvenience to themselves. Also, supervisors and managers often have a conflict between their productivity goals and the return-to-work program. If their own performance evaluation or year-end bonus is tied to their production goal, they (often subconsciously) place their own well being ahead of what is best for the company — the employee's return to work on modified duty. 

What is an Off-Site Return-to-Work Program?

The solution for the employee, the employee, and the supervisor is the off-site return-to-work program. An aggressive off-site return-to-work program provides temporary job placements at a non-profit organization when the employee's medical restrictions cannot be accommodated by the employer. With an off-site return-to-work program, the supervisor or manager no longer has the conflict between the productivity goals and the return-to-work program, nor do they see an off-site return-to-work program as an inconvenience to themselves.  

Some employers place employees in charity jobs, others use jobs at another job and still others use "cross-divisional" placements. National Job Finders at www.NationalJobFinders.com  and Soar Research www.SoarResearch.com both place employees in alternate jobs at employers with realistic alternative jobs. Their call centers makes phone calls looking for openings at local employers. They first learn the employees medical restrictions then make phone calls to locate matching jobs. They then monitor the job seeking efforts. If the employees intentionally "blow" the job interview, the callers document these issues and eventually the false job seeking attempts may be used to discontinue the claims in some states.

An example of an off-site return to work program

A third party administrator who was handling the workers’ comp claims for both a national trucking company and nationwide charity arranged for truck drivers to return to work on modified duty at the charity's thrift stores. The truck drivers, often with musculoskeletal injuries, often had weight lifting, standing, and sitting restrictions. The truck drivers instead of reporting to their truck terminal for modified duty would be given off-site work at the charity's thrift stores. The truck drivers sorted donated clothing. They were allowed to sort clothes seated at a table, or stand or walk, as they needed, to accommodate their restrictions from their medical provider. (workersxzcompxzkit)

When an employee is unable to return to work full time for the employer and the employer is unable to provide appropriate modified duty work, the off-site return to work program becomes an attractive option to the employee. An off-site return-to-work program provides several benefits to the employee that the employee would not get if forced to stay home from work.  

Author Rebecca Shafer, J.D. Consultant, President, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers’ Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. She can be contacted at:  RShafer@ ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

Podcast: KNOW the New OSHA Recordkeeping Rules — OR Risk Fines and Criminal Penalties.  Click Here:  http://www.workerscompkit.com/gallagher/podcast/Non_Compliance_with_Recordkeeping_Standards/
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers' comp issues.
 
©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com  

Return to Work Options for Siteless Employers Such As Trucking PEO Construction

A Question and Answer Exchange took place on Workers Compensation Roundtable, may be of interest to many because it contains information about how to minimize indemnity payments when your company is rather limited by what types of on-site work options are available for injured employees.

QUESTION:
What options  do you use for employers without an actual work site for employees returning to work from an injury to come back to?
I use  volunteer/charitable work, home-based work, work hardening/rehab centers with job-simulation settings.
How have  these worked for your companies. Any success stories? Problems? Obstacles?

ANSWERS
#1 Our company  has done a lot of "cross-divisional" programs that are generally very successful. In addition to offering viable transitional duty tasks, they also allow the division providing the "free" personnel (to the division receiving the personnel on transitional duty to reconsider their stance and become more flexible in what return-to-work (RTW) options they will consider.

#2 Being a national trucking company
 we also use volunteer organizations. It's a must for our organization, since there are plenty of situations where we do not have an on-site light duty position nearby. There are companies out there able will find these temporary light duty jobs for you. Two companies that come to mind are Eagle One and Workers' Transition Network.

#3 National Job Finders
has another alternative. We find injured workers with permanent restrictions new positions outside the insured employer. This is often useful for employers who either cannot or will not provide light or modified duty for their injured workers.

#4 Many employers
 don't want RTW program, and this is their right. Rather than continuing to push unwanted programs on them, let's offer options, and work with other options. There can be many reasons RTW is not desirable in every circumstance, so a program like National Job Finders (NJF) should be considered for those programs in addition to "site-less" employers.

A Question:
How effective are these organizations supporting employees in rural areas?

#5 As a nationwide
, interstate trucking company, we implement both an on-site and off-site program. We utilize a vendor to locate off-site placements at not-for-profit organizations. They have been successful in obtaining rural placements.
One challenge we face is locating full time off-site work. Part time placements are less desirable because we have a policy limiting leave to 12 weeks. If a part-time placement is found, the employee's leave continues to run and they time out faster. Are there any suggestions?

#6 At NationalJobFinders
 we find full time positions at paying employers and never use non-profit. Usually with the nonprofit  jobs or charity work, the insurer must continue to payout.
We are also  successful in rural areas, a majority of our casework. Sometimes we have cases where the person was injured living in a city or suburb but then moved to the middle of nowhere after they were injured. The claimant often insists "there are no jobs where I am."

#7 In this job
 environment, finding full time positions is difficult. Do you have statistics tracking your performance by industry type of injured employee, referral success rate, type of success (settlement, placed with new employer etc.), length of time to reach that success, cost to reach that success or other metrics that you think show the advantage of your program.

#8 Most of the time
 we are not given exact details on the closing of the case. I have historical statistical data available and other info on our online media kit  http://tinyurl.com/ykx438d

The average case
 closes in 8-12 weeks. Although we may not be told the specific results of our work, clients do let us know they are pleased with the results and immediately send us additional cases.

Usually, after we have successfully worked cases for a client, the cases begin to get "younger" and we get more of them from each client. We do survey our customers after cases close via a feedback form to help get more of the type of information you are asking for.

 
Note: much of the discussion is by www.NationalJobFinders.com, a service that finds jobs off-site on behalf of employers.

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers' Compensation costs, including airlines, health care, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

Podcast/Webcast: How To Prevent Fraudulent Workers' Compensation Claims Click Here http://www.workerscompkit.com/gallagher/podcast/
Fraudulent_Workers_Compensation_Claims/index.php


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers' comp issues.
 
©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

TEXAS Stopping Supplemental Income Benefits With Job Search Services

Job finding services  are perfect for those Texas workers’ compensation cases where the injured worker is receiving supplemental income benefits (SIB). These injured workers, or claimants, receiving SIB are REQUIRED to look for and accept suitable employment.

 

The qualifications  for this program are also a perfect match for a typical case that may benefit from job finding services. — Fifteen percent  or more impairment rating, physically demanding, relatively high paying blue-collar positions. The limit for benefits is 401 weeks from the date of injury, approximately 7.5 years.

 

Case Study

Assuming  a back injury with impairment rating of 15% or more.

Over 45% of back injuries  with a rating of 15% or more go the full 104 weeks before reaching statutory maximum medical improvement (MMI). Then, assuming a MMI impairment rating, impairment income benefits (IIB) are paid for 45 weeks. The injured worker can then apply for SIB, which could continue for an additional 252 weeks of payments before reaching the 401-week limit.

 

Therefore, using the current average weekly wage of $773, payments of $618.40 would be paid before reaching the 401-week threshold for a total of $155,836.80 in SIB payments to the injured worker. Keep in mind, only 69% of these cases go the 104 weeks before reaching MMI, so the SIB payments could begin earlier, and last longer.

 

Texas Workers’ Compensation and the SIB Program (from Texas website)

Changes  to the Supplemental Income Benefits Application Process – for SIB qualifying periods beginning on or after July 1, 2009.

Supplement Income Benefits  (SIB) are income benefits that you apply for quarterly (4 times per year, or every 3 months) and are paid monthly to injured employees that meet specific eligibility requirements.

You may be entitled  to SIBs if you meet the following entitlement requirements:

    * you have an impairment rating of 15 percent or more;

    * you have not returned to work because of your impairment, or you have returned to work but are earning less than 80 percent of the average weekly wage because of the impairment;

    * you have made a good faith effort to find a job that matches your abilities to work; and

    * you did not take your impairment income benefits in a lump sum payment.

Texas has  very specific requirements with regard to the injured workers seeking re-employment. Each time they apply for SIB benefits (quarterly) they are required to supply details of their search for work. (workersxzcompxzkit)

 

What a Job Finders Service Does For You:

Find the right job for the claimants, set-up the interviews, notify all parties, and follow-up with hiring managers. Efforts end in one of two outcomes — claimant shows a pattern of compliance and get a job or a pattern of non-compliance. In either event, cases can be closed as proof is provided  jobs available. Job finder services use a rigorous, detailed process and most are ready to be deposed or testify.

 

Note from Director: Job finding services are different than voc rehab in that the claimant is not the person looking for the job, the service provider looks for the jobs, and is more motivated to find jobs for injured workers. For those employers that do not want on-site return to work programs, this is a service you should become familiar with.


Katrina Paglierani of National Job Finders
 can be contacted atKatrina@NationalJobFinders.com or 1-800-225-4070.

Podcast/Webcast: How To Prevent Fraudulent Workers’ Compensation Claims Click Here http://www.workerscompkit.com/gallagher/podcast/

Fraudulent_Workers_Compensation_Claims/index.php


FREE WC IQ Test: http://www.workerscompkit.com/intro/
WC Books: http://www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/workers-comp-books-manuals.php
TD Calculator: www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php
WC Calculator: http://www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/calculator.php


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers’ comp issues.

 

©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

 

Five Keys to Return to Work in Minnesota Workers Compensation

Introduction/Summary of Employers’ Obligations

Obligations of
  employers in Minnesota regarding employees returning to work following workplace injuries are not particularly restrictive, but careful employers need to be aware of certain limitations. There are also several common mistaken assumptions made by Minnesota employers on this issue. Employers need to be mindful of the actual requirements under the law, so they may fairly comply with them and not inadvertently take actions that may create significant legal exposure for employers.

In general
,  there is no absolute right under Minnesota’s workers’ compensation law (or any other law) for an injured employee either to be provided with “light duty” work or to be eventually reinstated/rehired. Minnesota law does, however, expressly prohibit employers from discriminating or retaliating against an employee who has suffered an on-the-job injury or filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. In order to not run afoul of that restriction, employers should typically engage in work availability analyses for such workers similar to those engaged in for purposes of analyzing possible “reasonable accommodations” requested by employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Best practices for employers in this area also include being routinely aware of the actual medical restrictions for injured employees as issued by their treating physician.

What the Law Says
1. Prohibition on Discrimination/Retaliation
The Minnesota  workers’ compensation statute includes a provision (Minnesota Statutes section 176.82) that makes it unlawful to either refuse to offer continued employment or to re-employ an employee because of the fact that the employee pursued a workers’ compensation claim. This is an anti-retaliation provision and did not create guaranteed, continuing employment for injured workers. This part of the statute specifically prohibits employers from refusing to offer continued employment when employment “is available within the employee’s physical limitations.” The statute also makes it unlawful to discharge or threaten to discharge employees because they sought workers’ compensation benefits.

Claims by injured
  employees for violations of this part of the Minnesota workers’ compensation statute are resolved through the state court system – not through the workers’ compensation system. Employers’ exposure for such claims can be significant, because the law allows an employee who successfully pursues such a claim to recover up to $15,000 in lost wages (which is not covered by insurance), plus attorney’s fees and limited punitive damages. (The provision regarding the wrongful failure to offer continued employment or to re-hire is not applicable to employers with 15 or fewer employees.)

The good news
  for employers is this provision of the Minnesota workers’ compensation statute specifically allows an employer to assert as a defense that it had legitimate business reasons (“reasonable cause”) for either terminating an injured employee’s job, or failing to rehire an employee seeking a return to work following an injury. In order to be successful under this defense, an employer needs to be able to articulate (and be prepared to prove at trial, if necessary) that the failure to continue to employ the worker was for a legitimate business reason and not in retaliation for the assertion of workers’ compensation rights by the employee. Legitimate business reasons typically include the unavailability of any job positions fitting within an injured employee’s physical limitations (as specified in written medical restrictions) and the lack of any open positions for which an employee seeking to return to work is qualified and physically able to perform.

Employers are
, however, required to make reasonable efforts to find acceptable positions for injured workers, including considering and making modifications to the employee’s pre-injury job duties, including both temporary and possibly permanent changes, when determining whether suitable employment opportunities exist for the injured employee.

The analysis
  an employer is required to undertake and the ultimate burden that it is obligated to tolerate are essentially identical to the “reasonable accommodation” requirements imposed on employers under the ADA. The key factors to consider are how significant the necessary job modifications would impact the core duties of an employee’s job, any expense that those modifications would require an employer to incur, and the administrative or other difficulties that may be caused by having to reassign (even on a temporary basis) some of the job duties to other co-workers.

2. Return to Work Via “Light Duty”
“Light duty” work  is typically thought of as the creation of a new, temporary, position for an injured employee, as opposed to modifications to existing job duties. In Minnesota, there is no absolute right of an employee to be provided with “light duty” work when recovering from an on-the-job injury. Indeed, the phrase “light duty” appears nowhere within Minnesota’s voluminous workers’ compensation statute. Be that as it may, both employees and employers commonly – and mistakenly – assume there is such a right. Although an employer is certainly allowed to create a light duty position for an injured worker, employers are not required to do so under Minnesota law. If an employer chooses to offer a light duty position (at the same pay rate as the regular position) and the employee turns down a suitable job offer, the employer may cut off workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits.

That being said
,  Minnesota employers do have the legal obligation to entertain the possibility of making some modifications to an injured worker’s normal job duties (as discussed above). Nevertheless, employees do not have the right to, in essence,  create their own job by demanding work of his or her choosing. Workers’ compensation insurers (and their third-party administrators) will often urge an employer to consider placement of an injured worker in a light duty position, in order to avoid having to pay workers’ compensation wage loss replacement benefits. As discussed below, how an employer chooses to handle such suggestions is really a business decision and not one driven by any legal requirements.

3. Leaves of Absence
In Minnesota, there is no such thing as a “workers’ compensation leave of absence.” An injured employee is either able to return to work, with or without reasonable job modifications, or the employee is unable to return to work. If the employee is unable to return to work on a temporary basis, the employee is then eligible for wage loss replacement benefits (referred to as “temporary total disability” benefits). Although there are specific time limitations that apply to the eligibility for such benefits, the injured employee does not have any other right to be provided with a leave of absence under Minnesota workers’ compensation law. (If, however, the injury at issue also qualifies under the ADA or the FMLA, an employer is required to analyze the possibility of leave of absence rights under those laws.) Although it is not uncommon for a Minnesota employer to consider out-of-work employees who are recovering from work-place injuries to be on workers’ compensation leaves of absence, the better approach is often to terminate the job position if the employee is unable to return to work, without holding the job open, and to then consider that person for possible re-hire at the point in time when the employee asserts that he/she is able to return to work.

4. Reinstatement/Rehiring
In Minnesota,  injured employees do not have any absolute right to be reinstated into their pre-injury job, nor rehired into any position. As such, Minnesota does not recognize any “bumping rights” for injured employees. Employers do, of course, need to be mindful of the anti-retaliation provisions contained within Minnesota’s workers’ compensation law, as discussed above. As long as an employer complies with that provision of the statute, no other re-hiring or reinstatement rules apply. The bottom line here is that an injured employee who presents himself/herself as being ready to return to work must be able to establish they are qualified (with or without reasonable accommodations) for an existing and open job position. As a final note, employers with unionize work forces must, of course, be mindful of any bumping/reinstatement rights that are created under any applicable bargaining agreement.

5. Other Considerations for Employers
There are two other pragmatic points for employers when dealing with return-to-work issues. The first is the acknowledgement that an employer may face a significant financial impact even if it is not legally required to reemploy an injured employee, because that employee will then likely be in line to receive significant workers’ compensation benefits (wage loss replacement benefits) during a period of time when the employee remains unemployed. The second consideration is the “no good deed goes unpunished” phenomenon, meaning that if an employer is particularly charitable towards an employee and is willing to tolerate significant job modifications (or create an entirely new, light duty, position) and accompanying burden – above and beyond what is required under the law – the employer needs to be prepared to make the same concessions for other workers injured in the future.

The most significant
  benefits of adopting a liberal use of the creation of light duty positions include: (1) doing so may increase the likelihood that the employee will ultimately be able to return to active and productive work for the employer; and (2) using such an approach will hold down total workers’ compensation benefits paid and thus control the insurance premiums to be paid by the employer.

Significant disadvantages
  to a liberal – and voluntary – use of light duty positions include: (1) it may create a standard to be applied to the employer (in effect a “raising of the bar”) when an employer is faced in the future with fights over the legitimacy of the “undue hardship” justification for failing to continue to employ (or re-employ) an injured worker; (2) this approach has the tendency to create unreasonable expectations by employees as to the appropriate duration of the light duty position; and (3) this approach may negatively affect employee morale concerning other employees who perceive they are working significantly harder in exchange for the same pay.

The bottom line
  is that employers must be careful to go through a meaningful and very specific assessment when making decisions about whether and how to allow an injured employee to return to work.

 

Dean LeDoux  is a principal at  Gray Plant Mooty  in the firm's Employment Law practice group. He  represents labor and employment clients in a variety of jurisdictions, including federal and state courts, and before the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, and other such agencies. Contact Dean at 612-632-3233 or   Dean.LeDoux@gpmlaw.com .   www.gpmlaw.com Offices in Minnesota and Washington, D.C.
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 Podcast/Webcast: How To Prevent Fraudulent Workers' Compensation Claims

 Click Here:
http://www.workerscompkit.com/gallagher/podcast/Fraudulent_Workers_Compensation_Claims/index.php
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers' comp issues.
©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Find Out Four Keys to Workers Comp Cost Reduction 79 Percent

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 daysTrinity teaches its divisions to manage claims internally, returning employees to work as soon as medically able.

One of Trinity’s  secrets in reducing work comp costs so dramatically was they actively involved their insurance carrier to help them return injured employees to their jobs.  Containing the costs of workers’ compensation requires teamwork on the part of all parties involved.  Trinity educated their broker, third-party administrator, insurance company and, more importantly, each of their companies so everyone understood the program and knew Trinity wanted employees back at work as soon as medically possible.  It became known the corporation was willing to go to great lengths to place employees back into the work force, and their assistance in this effort was required.

Trinity redesigned  its insurance program so all auxiliary services provided by outside vendors fit together into the company’s total program. The program is designed to be a vehicle for these services.  Trinity also has implemented very detailed set of account instructions. The corporation approves all claims’ settlements, and written status reports on all claims over $10,000 are required every 30 days.  The company follows other cost-cutting guidelines.

1-File Audits

All workers’ comp  files are audited twice a year to develop a strategy to resolve not just to review each claim, These audits consist of face-to-face meetings between the company representative (usually the personnel director and general manager), the insurance company file adjuster, the insurance company supervisor, the insurance broker and the physician consultant.  Meetings are followed up with a written strategy plan to ensure each party understands the action they’re responsible for implementing.

2-Investigation and Surveillance

Each accident is  investigated in the plant immediately after it occurs, to determine the root cause and identify corrective measures. In addition, claims with  “red flags,”  or considered questionable, are investigated by professional investigators to determine whether the extent of the injury is legitimate or is being exaggerated.

Trinity recommends companies budget 5% to 10% of the total cost of the claim for surveillance.

3-Safety Management

No workers’ compensation  cost control program is complete without an effective loss control program and an in-plant safety program. While Trinity has what it considers a good loss-control program, it also realizes there will be comp claims and management must be prepared to manage properly these inevitable claims.  Trinity advises companies to utilize the services of their broker or their insurance carrier’s loss-control subsidiary or division, when available.

Also, employers  should have loss-control inspections at every facility several times a year. Not only do firms review workers’ comp claims and safety procedures regularly, but also they need an active safety committee, a workers’ comp coordinator and a safety incentive program.

4-Performance Goals

Trinity measures program results in three ways.

1.  OSHA Severity Rate:   The company tries to keep the below 40/100, a formula derived by using the number of lost work days, depending upon risk or exposure. (workersxzcompxzkit)
2.  Return-To-Work Ratio Goal: Trinity has an RTW ratio goal of returning 70% to 90% of injured workers to work within 10 days following an injury.
3.  Cost Per Employee: The company strives to keep its CPE below $150 per employee.

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers’ Compensation costs, including airlines, health care, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

Podcast/Webcast: How To Prevent Fraudulent Workers’ Compensation Claims
http://www.workerscompkit.com/gallagher/podcast/Fraudulent_Workers_Compensation_Claims/index.php

Visit Our Websites:
Reduce Your Workers Comp: www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/
WC Calculator:
http://www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/calculator.php

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers’ comp issues.

©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

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