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5 Key Components of an Effective Return-to-Work Program

5 Key Components of an Effective Return-to-Work ProgramWhen an employee is injured on the job, the employer is required to give them enough time to completely heal from their injuries before they return to work. However, it is possible for injured workers to be away from work too long, and it can even affect workers’ compensation premiums for the employer. Statistically, the longer an injured worker remains out of work due to an injury, the less likely they are to return to work at all. For example, when an employee is out of work for more than six months, they have less than a 50% chance of ever returning to work in any capacity. The longer an employee remains out of work, the more expensive their workers’ compensation insurance claim becomes.

An effective return-to-work program is a crucial component in managing workers’ compensation premiums. A workers’ compensation return-to-work program is simply a program that allows injured workers to return to their workplace in a light duty, limited or temporary capacity during their recovery. Workers are usually brought back to the position they were in prior to being injured with some modifications, but may also be placed in a different position until they are fully recovered. Return-to-work programs may vary by employer, but the most effective programs employ certain principles that drive success. Here are 5 key components of an effective return-to-work program.

1. A Clearly-Communicated Written Policy

Regardless of what the return-to-work program entails, the guidelines should be posted somewhere that all employees can access, and should clearly articulate all of the policies and procedures of the program. Supervisors and managers should be aware of their roles in the process, so that it can begin as soon after an injury event as possible.

2. Early and Frequent Communication Between Workplace and Worker

Communication between the injured worker and the workplace should begin soon after the worker has returned to their home to begin recovery. This helps set the tone for the entire process and lets the employee know they are supported, increasing their chances of returning to work quickly.

3. Modifications are Customized to the Injured Worker

The best workers compensation return-to-work programs are not one-size-fits-all plans. Each worker should receive their own return-to-work plan, with modifications that are customized to fit their capabilities. As they improve, the plan should be revised so that they can continue recovering.

4. Plans are Compliant with Local and Federal Regulations

Some agencies may have regulations that pertain to the execution of return-to-work programs. Employers should work with their insurance agent and claims manager to ensure their program meets is compliant with regulations set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as well as any other state employment and housing regulations.

5. The Employer Provides the Injured Worker with a Reasonable Wage.

Workers’ compensation return-to-work programs can be customized to provide full-time or part-time work with either full or partial wages. The workers’ compensation insurance company can typically compensate for the difference between the worker’s pre-injury wage and the wage paid through the return-to-work program, if any. This is a great incentive for employees who don’t want to lose a percentage of their normal wages while in recovery.

Implementing an effective return-to-work program not only enables the injured worker to perform valuable work during their recovery, it increases the overall morale for all employees in the workplace. Workers who participate in a return-to-work program are able to retain their experience in the workplace which is beneficial for them, and it also lessens the overall rate of turnover, which is beneficial for employers.

About ASIA Workers’ Compensation

Associated Specialty Insurance Agency, Inc. has been “The Workers’ Compensation Specialist for Brokers and Agents” for the past two decades and is committed to providing brokers and insurance agents across the East Coast with expertise and services to develop a Workers’ Compensation policy. For more information about how we can assist you with claims management, anti-fraud measures, and more call (610) 543-5510 to speak with one of our professionals.

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