Return to Work (RTW) Programs or modified/light duty programs are critical for getting an injured employee back to work. These programs benefit both the employer and the injured employee.
Having a Return to Work Program in place makes the transition for any injured employees to return to modified work duties easier while still recovering. These programs are designed to support injured employees and minimizing downtime on the job.
When an injured employee is given return to work restrictions, an employer has to decide if they can accommodate these restrictions. If a Return To Work program is already established, it makes things more seamless for the employee to safely re-enter the workplace.
Benefits of a Return to Work Policy for the Injured Employee
- Financial Security – While Workers Compensation pays the injured employee, it is not equal to their full, normal pay. Going back to work on modified duty will have a positive financial impact on the employee as their full wages are restored.
- Skill Retention – the longer an employee is away from the job, the more they may lose some of their skill retention.
- Social Benefit – Being back at work can help injured employees stay connected with their peers and colleagues
- Job Security/Morale – Knowing that an employer cares enough to ensure that they can safely return to work helps alleviate stress about not knowing if they have a job to return to.
Benefits of a Return to Work Policy for Employers
- Cost Reduction – When you can safely allow injured employees to come back on modified work duty, you will be reducing your overall Workers Compensation claims costs, as well as costs associated with hiring and training temporary replacements.
- Productivity Increased – Modified work duties allow employees to enter the workforce, which helps overall productivity.
Putting Together your Return to Work Program
Instead of waiting for a claim to happen, by having a program in place already, it will be easier for a business to assess the individual needs of their injured employees. Create guidelines of eligibility, job positions for RTW employees, and when clearance to go back to full duties will be given – all of which will depend upon the Medical clearance and guidelines.
Identify who is responsible for RTW program facilitation because they will be the point person for employees who are injured at work. Communication between business owners, the RTW lead, and the injured employee is important for this program to succeed.
Identify essential job functions and how duties can be accommodated for each.
Your Workers Compensation carrier will also have resources for creating a program, and claims adjusters will help businesses with getting employees back to work according to modified duty restrictions but having an RTW program will make determining if you can accommodate work restrictions faster and smoother for you and the employee. The Department of Labor has resources here as well.