Properly Designing and Implementing Transitional Duty Program Ensures Success

return to workThe 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 injured employee is placed on light-duty work restrictions by the medical provider.

 

 

Big Mistake is Designing Program After Employee is Injured

 

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 provided 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.

 

 

 

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 the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

©2019 Amaxx LLC. 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.

7 Ways to STOP Those Minor Workers Comp Lost-Time Claims

 
Many companies simply don’t offer light duty. Instead, they say to their injured workers, “If you are not 100 percent then you are no good to me.” These same employers then complain when they go over their loss run about how much they are spending on shorter (10-30 days) lost time claims.
 
 
Typically wage expense on these claims is an employer’s biggest expense. Some higher wage earners can rack up a hefty wage cost in a short amount of time. Meanwhile, the medical cost for their claims may be a few thousand dollars, tops. (WCxKit)
 
 
Here are seven ways to keep those little lost-time claims from adding up in the long run.
 
 
1. Create Light Duty Work for All Restrictions
Depending on company size, there are a lot of easy jobs a person with restrictions can do — freeing up a healthy employee to do non-restrictive tasks. Light cleaning, inventory, answering the phone, ordering parts and supplies — all of these are necessary tasks in every company. A person with short-time, restricted duty may be assigned to help on these jobs or other light work until they are able to return to full duty, always dependent on the restrictions. Light duty keeps the employee working, and makes it easier to transition back to full-duty work.
 
 
2. Make Detailed Job Descriptions for All Available Light Duty Positions
Physicians usually ask for a job description before they release an injured worker back to work. If you have a good breakdown of what the various job tasks are, it makes it easier for the doctor to decide if the employee can do those jobs. Pay attention to the details of these jobs as well, you don not want an injured employee making the injury worse through their light-duty assignment.
 
 
3. Make Sure the Employer Contacts the Clinic to Say Light Duty is Available
Who knows what the employee is telling the doctor about the day-to-day job duties? Some claimants wanting to remain off work inflate their job duties to make it sound like there is no way they could return to work until they are at full ability.
 
 
If the employer calls or faxes over a job description the doctor may feel more at ease about releasing an injured worker back to light duty. Also, some doctors flat out ask the employee if there is light duty available and most the time the employee will say no, even when it is known there is light duty, in an effort to remain out of work longer and collect a check before returning to full duty. Employers must follow up and make sure they talk to the right person at the clinic about getting the employee back to work in an assignment consistent with their medical restrictions.
 
 
4. Offer Full Pay for Light Duty Work Instead of Partial/Reduced Pay
A common deterrent to an employee not wanting to come back on light duty is the employer drops the wage rates to coincide with the light-duty job tasks. This action defeats the purpose of bringing the employee back to work on light duty. Even though the tasks are below the employee’s experience level, think of light-duty assignments in the short-term, and be flexible with the pay. The injured worker is not going to be on light-duty work forever and getting the worker back to work is the important thing.
 
 
5. Talk to the Clinic/Physician About Your Workplace and the Work it Performs
In addition to faxing a job description, ask to talk directly to the physician. This will surely make the doctor feel better about releasing an employee back to work. Talking to the employer reassures the doctor the tasks assigned will be performed properly within the medical restrictions, and that the employer will provide help on certain jobs if the injured worker needs it. In addition, most physicians can provide work restrictions over the phone instead of waiting until the next appointment to release the worker back to light duty.
 
 
If you cannot reach the doctor ask for the office manager or medical/nurse assistance. Tell them a job description was faxed and that you want the doctor to address whether or not the employee is able to perform the light duty tasks; and if not, why. The more persistent you are, the quicker the doctor will be to provide restrictions. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
 
 
6. Light Duty Work Tasks Can Motivate Workers to Get Back to Full Duty
Most people don’t like cleaning, phone work, or simple mundane tasks for very long. If workers know these tasks are a consequence of injury, they are less likely to milk their claim. Good workers hate being hurt and want to return to normal as soon as possible. If they know they will not be sitting at home idle, and instead will be answering the phone at work, it will shave time off of their claim and motivate them to be released from the doctor to full duty.
 
 
7. Think Of The Bigger Picture
Even if you do not have a lot of claims at your workplace, think about the cost in the big picture. Think quarterly and/or annually about the savings you will realize come the end of the year. As mentioned, wages are the biggest cost in short-term, lost-time claims. By keeping the injured employee working so they do not lose any time at all, you provide them with a job while they are injured, and also provide a service to the company. Before you know it they will be full duty without incurring any further lost time from their normal work duties. (WCxKit)
 
 
A good light-duty work program has a ton of benefits and you can get injured workers back to work utilizing the tips outlined above. This will not only save costs, but will also make the workplace more functional for injured workers. It is important to create and have on-hand, up-to-date, detailed job descriptions, as well as someone at your workplace following up with clinics to make sure they have the correct information regarding your light-duty work program. Once everyone is on the same page, your workers and your assigned occupational clinic will know what is expected of them when workers have a minor injury.
 

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website 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. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

 
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, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Six Tips to Get Your Employees on Board with Transitional Duty Programs

To carry out successful transitional work programs, risk managers must also help convince employees of the benefits of these programs.

 

The most critical element in any return-to-work program is keeping the disabled employee actively involved in the workplace.(WCxKit)

 

When a worker is injured, the employer must maintain contact with the employee throughout the recovery period so he or she does not become “psychologically disemployed.” The phenomenon of “psychological disemployment” occurs when employees are away from the work environment for an extended period. During this period, employees begin to perceive themselves as having become “distanced” from the company — that is, the same company paying their workers compensation benefits.

 

To gain employees acceptance, transitional work programs must be carried out properly.

 

  1. The company should publicize the program in a positive manner. This requires ensuring employees understand that transitional work programs will keep them productive during their convalescence.

 

  1. A company must apply its return-to-work policy equally to all employees.

 

  1. Employers should schedule weekly meetings with the injured employee throughout the convalescence period. These meetings are a good way to obtain an informal status report concerning the types of physical activities the employee is able to engage in, the treatments the employee’s physician has prescribed or any problems the employee may be encountering.

 

This weekly contact underscores the companys expectation that the employee will return to work in some capacity as an active part of the work force.

 

Weekly progress meetings allow the company to demonstrate its concern about the continued welfare of the employee.

 

  1. Send the employee “Get Well” cards and other remembrances throughout the convalescence.

 

  1. Ensure that the company doctor or physician consultant talks to the injured employees treating physician about initiating a return-to-work plan at the earliest possible juncture during the convalescence.

 

The physician consultant can telephone the treating doctor and discuss the status of an employees convalescence on a doctor-to-doctor basis.

 

Often, treating physicians are more willing to discuss a patients progress with another physician. This allows the physician consultant to discuss the medical aspects of the employees claim, such as the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan and then work with the treating physician to establish an estimated return-to-work date.(WCxKit)

 

  1. It is critically important return-to-work programs become part of the corporate culture supported 100% by management. Thus, it becomes part of employees expectations that if they “go out on workers compensation,” they will return to work shortly in some form of transitional work capacity.

 

Transitional duty is the Way to go – how do you sell your employees on the idea? Find out five methods by following #WorkersComp.

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website 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.  See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:  RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
 

WC IQ TEST:  http://www.workerscompkit.com/intro/

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

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

 

WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/
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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.


©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact 
Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

Navigating the Return to Work Maze with Transitional Duty

Many companies use transitional work programs to return temporarily injured employees to the workforce in a limited capacity until they are physically able to resume their original, full-time duties.

 
This is a good idea because the longer an employee is out of work, the less likely they are to return EVER. (WCxKit)
 
No one is suggesting cheating employees out of benefits, rather, keep your company’s financial health and your employees’ mental health in mind.
 
Sitting around on a couch and receiving partial payment really isn’t good for anyone. Most people do better if they have a destination to go to each day.
 
Perhaps one department needs inventory taken, or another department requires a card filing system or someone to answer telephones. Companies can have recuperating employees perform these tasks, thus helping to boost productivity.
 
While employers have traditionally used transitional duty programs only for work injuries, many companies are adopting them for non-occupational injuries as well.
 
If an employee can come back at half-capacity or perform duties related to his or her job, though not the entire job, this benefits both the company and the employee.
 
Transitional work positions can be located in the same or a different department, or even in another company or operating division. Some employees perform transitional work program duties in the community as a volunteer in an employer-sponsored volunteer activity, or in a commercial vocational rehabilitation return-to-work center. In these instances, employers should provide transportation for the employee to the work facility to demonstrate continued involvement and concern for his or her recovery.
 
Forward-thinking companies may use transitional duty for maternity leave, bereavement, mental illness, addiction and some types of sick time. These companies are taking a comprehensive approach to “absence management.”
 
Transitional work programs have the advantage of allowing injured employees to regard themselves as “actively employed” and thus productive and valuable members of the workforce.
 
This is good for your employee.
 
When a worker is injured, the employer must maintain contact with the employee throughout the recovery period so he or she does not become “psychologically disemployed.” The phenomenon of “psychological disemployment” occurs when employees are away from the work environment for an extended period. During this period, employees begin to perceive themselves as having become “distanced” from the company — that is, the same company paying their workers compensation benefits.
 
These programs are also financially beneficial for the company because by keeping the employee at work, the employer realizes significant workers compensation cost reductions.
 
Transitional work programs also help decrease short- and long-term disability insurance or wage continuation costs for non-occupational injuries.
 
And although employees in a transitional work program assignment may be less than 100% productive, having an injured employee working part-time in a limited capacity is more cost-effective than having one who does not work at all.
 
Many companies, however, are reluctant to initiate transitional work programs. Some employers believe worker unions will not accept these programs, or the programs themselves will not be time- or cost-effective.
 
But evidence proves transitional work programs can be very cost-effective.
 
A well-managed transitional work program can result in a return-to-work rate of up to 90% for injured employees returning to the job within four days after the injury.
 
Significantly shortened workers compensation claims in turn result in lowered indemnity costs as the companys workers compensation loss experiences shows overall improvement.
 
Concerns suggest the primary barriers to setting up transitional work programs are attitudinal in nature.(WCxKit)
 
Therefore, to implement successfully transitional work programs, risk managers must help convince their companies, company employees and treating physicians that transitional work programs are beneficial for all concerned.
 
You need transitional work duties available in your workers compensation program. Find out why #WorkersComp.
 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website 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.  See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:  RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/
SUBSCRIBE: 
Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

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.

©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Four Things the Treating Physician Can Do to Help Implement a Transitional Duty Program

An important part of transitional work programs is getting the injured employees treating physicians to agree to their patients’ participation. A good communication piece,  such as "Brochure to Treating Physicians" can be a valuable tool in letting the doctors your company works with to know your expectations.

 
1. Obtain an agreement from the treating physician not to prescribe “no work” for the employee without first discussing the matter with the employer.
 
An injured employee may be able to function in a transitional work capacity much sooner if such a program is already in place.
 
2. Employers should ensure their doctors or physician consultants remain in regular contact with all treating physicians.
 
The company doctor should receive periodic reports on the patients progress. During the treatment process, the company doctor or physician consultant should also fax the treating physician transitional work job descriptions so the physician can determine if the patient is able to perform the tasks listed in the description. (WCxKit)
 
3. The treating physician will describe the injured employees physical capabilities throughout the convalescent process, and whether the employee can work in any capacity. Some TPAs employe doctors, called peer-to-peer doctors, who enage is this type of liason to discuss the injured employee's condition.
 
4. Companies should request a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) which is a physical examination assessing a person’s capacity for physical exertion and range of motion activities. Sometimes, FCEs are done by physical therapy operations, and this is a good option also. The treating physician orders the FCE. Make the treating phsycian know you want to use FCE's as an indemnity cost control technique.
 
Transitional work programs are much easier to establish than one may imagine. It is a commonly held belief that once employees become injured or ill, they must remain out of the workplace for an extended period of time.
 
This, of course, will result in lengthy and costly workers compensation claims costs. This traditional perspective is being altered by employers who, due to a changing economic climate, are developing methods to reduce their workers compensation and disability costs.
 
Many employers now take a more active role in coordinating the activities of the injured employee and the treating physician by carrying out transitional work programs, which generate the expectation that the employee will return to work in some capacity within a specified period of time.
 
These newly held assumptions benefit both the employee and the employer. For employers, transitional work programs are helpful because they reduce costly workers compensation claims.
 
And employees benefit by maintaining a positive self-image while remaining a productive member of the work force.
 
The phenomenon of “psychological disemployment” occurs when employees are away from the work environment for an extended period. During this period, employees begin to perceive themselves as having become “distanced” from the company — that is, the same company paying their workers compensation benefits.(WCxKit)
 
Ideally 95% of employees will return to work within four days. Best practice is 90% of employees never leave the workplace, receiving treatment on-or-off-site and returning to a transitional duty job as soon as they are medically able to do so.
 
 
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website 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.  See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:  RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

 

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/
SUBSCRIBE: 
Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

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.

©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
Info@
ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

The BIG Work Comp Question GOT MODIFIED or LIGHT DUTY

Shortly after  an employer signs up for workers’ compensation insurance, someone (broker, insurance agent, insurance company, claims professional) whispers in their ear. . . “What are your options for MODIFIED DUTY after an injury?”

A really important question,  since getting employees back to work promptly after an injury has a measurable impact on claim costs.

Modified duty programs  [a.k.a. transitional duty (TD) return-to-work (RTW)] often raise many questions for an employer. The first being, “You mean we have to pay injured employees to do a job they were not hired to do?” Of course, the answer is YES!!!

Now the, WHAT IF and DO WE HAVE TO questions start to flow. . .

What if  we don’t really have a position to accommodate a sedentary or light duty release?

What if  other employees get mad and quit because it’s unfair they have to do the injured employee’s job, plus their own, while the injured employee is just “sitting around?”

Do we have  to have a RTW program?

The real question  is . . . What benefit does my company get, if we have one? In truth, an Employer is not obligated to have a formal Modified/Light duty program; however, there are a couple of good reasons for doing so.

According to industry experts, once an employee is out of work for more than six months post injury, s/he is much more likely to remain in the workers’ compensation system indefinitely, known as “psychological disemployment”  Getting injured workers back to work as quickly as possible, helps them retain their skills and promotes positive employee relations. Both are pretty good reasons to explore RTW programs.

A further benefit  may show up in the employers “bottom line.” By providing a modified/light duty opportunity, employers reduce their workers’ compensation payout which may lower their “modifier.” This fact can have a dramatic impact on future workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

So what if injured  employees fail to take advantage of the program? The modified/light duty job offer is just that, an offer of employment. When an injured employee fails to take advantage of the program, s/he runs the risk of losing workers’ compensation benefits. This fact is a strong motivator for compliance and a key factor in resolving future claim disputes.

Modified/light  duty programs should be a part of the employer’s long-term risk management strategy. But state regulations do differ. The process of effectively creating, evaluating, or improving an employer sponsored RTW program may be a challenge.

If you’ve not  already done so, it’s a great idea to consult with an experienced risk management professional or occupational/vocational counselor. These folks have real life experience with many types of employers and will be able to assure your program is effective and in compliance with specific jurisdiction requirements.

Construction, Transportation, Retail. . . What options do employers have when they truly do not have the ability to create alternative jobs within their company? Stay tuned for more info on a special variety of Modified Duty Program – Transitional Work Programs.

Author:  Gordon R. Butler, national authority/consultant on employability & wage capacity in workers’ comp, liability, PIP and LTD Claims. He can be reached at 321-377-1164 (cell) or email gbutler@soarresearch.com www.gbutlerconsult.com

Follow Us On Twitter: www.twitter.com/WorkersCompKit

Do not use this information without independent verification.
All state laws vary.

©2008 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Three Return to Work Options in Illinois

Will An Injured Worker be Paid to Work Transitional Duty at a Not-for-Profit?

An Illinois company does not  have any modified positions available to bring the worker back to transitional duty with his restrictions.  However, there is a not-for-profit organization the company is working with to place the injured worker while he is recovering from his work-related injury and transitioning back to full time duties. What are the companies options?

Three Scenarios:
#1:  Company
 pays the worker his regular wages while he is back to transitional work at the not-for-profit.
#2:  Company  pays the worker his regular wages while he is back to transitional work at the not-for-profit and his risk sharing pool reimburses the company for the wages paid.
#3:  TPA/Risk sharing  pool pays the worker temporary total disability (TTD) benefits while he is back to transitional work at the not-for-profit.

Discussion of Options:
Option 1 is an acceptable approach, but if the company refuses to pay wages while the worker is working at the not-for-profit, are Options 2 and 3 viable alternatives to get the employee into transitional duty?

In Illinois there remains   the duty to pay “maintenance” (same rate as the TTD) while someone with permanent restrictions is in “vocational rehabilitation.” Vocational rehabilitation normally takes the form of permanent job placement assistance.  Maintenance benefits are payable at the TTD rate during a worker’s compliance with the job search efforts.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act   and prior court decisions following National Tea  provide that if the labor market is such that a person of like qualifications with permanent restrictions would be able to secure their own employment on his or her own efforts, then there is no duty to place or vocationally rehabilitate or pay maintenance.  Usually the claimant must enter into a diligent but unsuccessful a job search effort before the duty for placement shifts to the employer to show they are employable. The duty to provide vocational assistance with permanent placement exists only when the employer has no permanent work available within the restrictions and where there is an actual likelihood of successful job placement.

Assuming this worker  is eligible for vocational placement assistance because of the high probability he will not find work without professional assistance, the normal approach would be Option 3 where the TPA, Risk Pool, continues to pay the “maintenance” benefits while waiting on the permanent placement. Working with the not-for- profit group while seeking permanent employment certainly can qualify for the continued maintenance benefits.

However, it is more  effective to cut to the chase on claimants who have no job to go back to.  Most injured claimants are employable in some capacity but there is no guarantee the worker will find work, that the job market for the injured worker will remain stable or the new job provide enough wages to avoid a wage differential claim.  And, at any rate, a claimant can certainly sabotage the job placement efforts or even a new job position.

A professional rehabilitation  expert can usually provide a report on the likelihood of re-employment and an expected rate of pay, as well as the expected duration of the job search. If at all possible, try to close these claims out at this point by providing a permanency settlement, several months of “maintenance” to accomplish a job search (say 3 to 5 months depending on severity of restrictions) and with a portion of the funds, (say $5,000) provide for professional job placement assistance.

Employees have  a much greater personal motivation to save money and find employment quickly if their own settlement money at risk of diminishing. It would be to the employer’s benefit to find someone who can accurately assess the employee’s placement and earnings potential and advise on placement of a motivated claimant.

If however,  we are talking of purely “transitional employment” because the claimant has not yet reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) nor reached permanent restrictions, only Option 1 or 2 are really available — having the company pay his regular wages while the worker is “assigned” to work at the not-for-profit.

An employer can  continue to pay TTD benefits while waiting for permanent restrictions for a return to work at the company or at other permanent job placement but there is no real duty under Illinois case law for Option 3 — no duty for an employee to work a temporary job assignment with someone other than the employer while recovering and on TTD(temporary total disability). 

The only real way  to force the worker to attend work at the not-for-profit is under Option 1 or 2.  Otherwise, it is not really enforceable.  Workers are entitled to TTD benefits as long as they are medically unable to do their regular job and while no light duty “transitional” employment is available with their employer.  There exists no duty under Illinois workers’ compensation for the worker to take on a temporary job assignment of alternate employment with the not-for-profit organization while still recovering from work injuries.  Employers offering light duty can certainly assign their workers to report to work wherever they want and that would include assigning them to work at the not-for-profit organization.  Since the employer is not receiving the benefits of the employees’ labors, they may insist on reimbursement under Option 2.

If possible,  it might be wise to provide a work hardening program and an Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) to obtain permanent restrictions but the treating doctor may not accommodate those efforts or the natural recovery time from the injury may preclude the use of work hardening and an FCE. 

Providing the worker  with the temporary job assignment at the not-for-profit organization may provide the worker with a much greater motivation to get released to return to regular work rather than the other alternative of getting paid TTD benefits while sipping lemonade at back yard barbeques.

Author:  Brad Bleakney of Bleakney & Troiani in Chicago, IL practices in the areas of work-related injury claims third party litigation for accidental work injuries. He has a background in industry where he helped a Fortune 500 company reduce their workers’ compensation losses significantly. Brad can be reached at: Brad Bleakney, Bleakney & Troiani, 1 North Franklin (2625) Chicago, IL 60606 312-541-0045 or fax 312-541-0041 info@WorkComp-Chicago.com
Read Brad’s Blog at: http://workcomp-chicago.blogspot.com/

WC Calculator www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/calculator.php
TD Calculator www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php
WC 101 www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/workers_comp.php

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws are different. Consult with your corporate legal counsel before implementing any cost containment programs.

©2008 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

What is a Triage Nurse and How Do They Help Manage Workers Compensation

Workers’ compensation medical and indemnity costs continue to rise and are now the two biggest workers’ comp challenges employers face.

To address these problem areas, some employers are utilizing an injury management service call “triage nursing” which leverages a nurse call center to facilitate timely, accurate reporting of injuries. Triage injuries to the most appropriate level of care, and improves return-to-work outcomes through immediate and detailed information delivery.

When risk management professionals think of a nurse’s involvement in the workers’ comp process, they normally think of “nurse case managers” in the traditional context. However, “triage” nurses get involved much sooner in the WC process – basically at the point of injury to assist employees in obtaining quality medical care. When an injury is reported, the nurse provides an objective medical assessment and channels the employee to the most appropriate, cost-effective level of care.

The first and primary benefit  is improved medical care for employees. Triage nurses are highly compassionate medical professionals, who listen closely to the details of each injury and provide personalized attention to each employee, focusing on unique medical needs. As a result, employees have an overwhelming positive experience in the workers’ compensation process. Employers that provide this type of service send a clear message-that they care about their employees’ health, safety, and well-being. In addition, these organizations benefit from increased employee satisfaction, and consequently, decreased litigation.

The second benefit  is a consistent, well-managed injury reporting process. Although it’s commonly understood that prompt reporting of injuries leads to improved claims costs and outcomes, there are still many delays and obstacles to compliance. An injured employee may wait to report an injury until it becomes worse and requires serious medical attention. Supervisors may be delayed in filing the proper claims form.

The third benefit  is ensuring that every injury receives treatment appropriate to its level of medical severity. In the past, employers would often train supervisors to respond to worksite injuries, but these managers are not trained medical professionals. They would often err on the side of caution, sending employees-even those with minor injuries-to the emergency room. 

Ultimately, workers’ compensation losses  impact an organization’s bottom line, so containing these costs is important. By implementing a “Day of Injury” Nurse Triage, employers can reduce healthcare costs by as much as 20 percent, and by integrating a structured RTW program, injured employees recover and return to work sooner-reducing lost time by as much as 50 percent.

Paul Binsfeld is the CEO of Company Nurse, a firm specializing in workers’ compensation injury triage and management. For more information, email paulb@companynurse.com , or go to www.companynurse.com.

WC Calculator www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/calculator.php
TD Calculator www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php
WC 101 www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/workers_comp.php

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws are different. Consult with your corporate legal counsel or other professionals before implementing any cost containment programs.

©2008 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

What To Include in a Modified Duty Job Offer Letter to an Ohio Employee

In OH, there are several things that should be included in an offer of transitional duty employment according to Attorney George Wilkinson in Cincinnati, Ohio.

  1. Introduction stating the letteris an offer of temporary employment while they are recovering from a work-related injury/illness.
  2. Have the employee’s physician of record (POR) sign off on the offer first. Otherwise, the employee will take it to his POR with his own spin on how tough it is, and the doctor will not agree to it. Then you have to go through the usual medical battle.
  3. Where and whento report for the position
  4. Who to reportto (name of supervisor)
  5. Descriptionof position
  6. Position will be carefully monitoredto make sure physical restrictions are not exceeded
  7. Make it clear that return to originalposition is dependant on ability to perform all the essential functions of the job.
  8. SignatureLine
  9. Check boxes for employeeto either Accept or Decline the offer. If employee declines, temporary total may be terminated.
  10. Mail the letter via First Class Mailand certified and have the start date 5-7 days after the letter is mailed.

Note: Return-to-work starts the clock on the permanent partial award, so claimant’s lawyers are usually quite amenable to it.

Information Provided by George B. Wilkinson, Partner. Attorney Wilkinson is Workers Compensation Group Practice Leader at Dinsmore & Shohl in Cincinnati, OH. He can be reached at George.wilkinson@dinslaw.com or 513-977-8316.

WC Calculator www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/calculator.php
TD Calculator www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php
WC 101 www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/workers_comp.php

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws are different. Consult with your corporate legal counsel before implementing any cost containment programs.

©2008 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

 

Three Reasons Your Transitional Duty Job Policy Should Have An End Date

Open-ended transitional duty policies can be problematic and should have a start point and an end point. For example, transitional duty positions should go no longer than 6 months without a special extension or waiver of the length of the assignment. HR, Legal and Risk Management should work together on the Transitional Duty Policy. Focusing on gradually increasing capacity, at some point the TD job should end. Each company will have a different length depending on circumstances, but 6 months is about average for what most companies have.

Three reasons your TD Policy should have an end-date:

1- The unions may have a problem with transitional duty assignments if they are not temporary because they will argue that you have created a new position which is not allowed by the labor agreement. For example, with a part-time employee whose transitional duty assignment lasts for over a year, it is difficult to argue that that is not “a job” if someone has performed the task for over a year.

2- For ADA purposes, it is difficult to argue the company could not create a new job as an accommodation with those duties if they just let the person work under those conditions for over a year.

3- And, there may be an issue with health insurance being required to be paid during a longer time frame. In some states, an employer is obligated to provide health insurance if a TD job lasts for a long time.

For more cost-saving tips go to WC Cost Reduction Tips.
Show the REAL cost of workers’ comp with the Real Cost Calculator.

Workers’ Comp Kit® is a web-based online Assessment, Benchmarking and Cost Containment system for employers. It provides all the materials needed to reduce your costs significantly in 85% less time than if you designed a program from scratch.

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws are different. Consult with your corporate legal counsel before implementing any cost containment programs.

©2008 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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