A Return to Work (RTW) program enables employers to facilitate an employee’s return to work as soon as it is medically approved. Statistics support that bringing injured employees back to work in a temporary modified duty capacity results in reduced workers compensation costs AND expedites their return to full duty status. In addition, the injured worker is contributing to the business in a meaningful way by doing work that would have to be transferred to another employee.
The program emphasizes employer/employee efforts to return the employee to the productive workforce, whether to the same duties and tasks performed prior to the injury or to modified light duty tasks. An employee’s return to the job enhances productivity, reduces employee turnover, and minimizes employee-related costs.
The modified duty need not be at the pre-injury position or wage, but at a position that allows for continued work that is consistent with the employee’s ability to perform given the injury and medical direction. Studies have shown that the sooner an injured employee returns to work in any capacity, the more likely they are to eventually reestablish a full duty schedule and full productivity. Studies have also illustrated that the longer the employee is off the job, the less likely the employee is to return to the place of employment or to a full duty status. When labor markets are tight and qualified applicants limited, the return of the employee to the operation is integral to a company’s productivity.
Below are the suggested steps to implement a Return to Work program for an injured employee:
- The treating doctor releases the injured worker to return to work on a restrictive basis with light duty restrictions.
- Upon release, identify an appropriate, temporary light duty job assignment that meets the restrictions outlined by the releasing physician. Your Service Lloyds claims adjuster and/or Risk Control Consultant can assist with these efforts.
- Once the modified or temporary duty has been defined, create and send a “bona fide” offer of employment to the injured worker. The “bona fide” offer provides the terms and description of the modified duty being offered.
- The injured employee can return to work once the “bona fide” offer is accepted and signed.
- Ideally, pay the injured worker at the same pre-injury rate OR you can pay a lower wage commensurate to the temporary function.
- When the employee recovers and receives a full duty release, the injured employee returns to their normal duties.
Download a sample Return to Work Program for adaptation.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What if the treating doctor won’t release the injured employee?
Answer: Your Service Lloyds claims adjuster can assist by contacting the treating doctor.
What if the employee does not accept the “bona fide” offer of employment?
Answer: Indemnity benefits (lost time wage replacement) may be discontinued, however, the medical coverage will remain in place.