An accident has happened! So now what? This is when a solid return-to-work program is essential in controlling the financial impact of lost time workers’ compensation (WC) claims. Having an effective return-to-work policy in place will not only help you meet legal obligations but also can positively affect your insurance rates. With this in mind, we’ve laid out five simple steps you can follow to positively impact claims and keep those workers’ compensation costs in line!
1. Implement a Return-to-Work Policy
A strong return-to-work policy helps ensure that employees are healthy and safe when they return to work. Transparency can alleviate uncertainty when the process and expectations are outlined in advance.
There are many advantages to implementing a return-to-work program, including the following:
• Injured employees typically recover faster
• Higher morale
• Reduced likelihood of litigation
• Reduced claims costs
• Improved Experience Modifier, which means better WC rates over the long term.
Make it clear that you want to keep your employees’ paychecks intact; therefore, you offer light duty in line with medical restrictions. Removing financial insecurity will lessen an employee’s stress and uncertainty. There’s a waiting period before WC pays out on a lost time claim. You want to keep employees from losing part of their income!
Make light duty or alternative jobs available that fall within your employee’s restrictions and ask for their input. We all want to feel seen and heard, so giving them an opportunity to have some input can make a difference in morale.
Since your employee cannot perform their regular duties, it is important to have a clear and open discussion about their medical diagnosis and any associated restrictions. During this conversation, take the time to explain the restrictions thoroughly and ensure that your employee understands the importance of adhering to them.
Discuss the restrictions with the employee’s supervisor/manager. Make it clear that the employee can only perform duties within their restrictions. The supervisor should monitor the employee for pain or discomfort while working within their restrictions. The last part is vital to prevent the claim from escalating or increasing the length of the employee’s recovery.
3. Frequent Check-ins
Regular check-ins with the injured worker will likely reduce an employee’s time on light duty. This reduces the length of the claim, which impacts your premiums.
• Are they following all restrictions on and off duty?
• Are there any attendance issues?
• Are they taking all their medications and following the doctor’s orders?
Address any issues with the employee or supervisor immediately. The goal is to keep everyone on track.
4. Monitor Progress
Is the injured employee attending their doctor’s visits? Pay attention to the medical status. Is the employee improving, and are the restrictions lessening? If the employee is not progressing, find out why. Talk with the employee and the physician. Determine if there is a disconnect between the employee and the doctor or if the treatment is not helping. Also, continue to monitor that the work restrictions are being followed.
5. Support Your Employees
Create a partnership with employees so they feel supported and valued by their employer. Having clear procedures for returning to their regular duties gives employees confidence. The more involved you are, the more your employees feel they are prioritized. They also must feel comfortable enough to bring up any problems so they can be addressed early. The more they feel like their health and well-being are important, the less likely they will seek an attorney’s assistance.
Creating and maintaining a solid return-to-work program can significantly impact your rates. Well-structured effective communication and teamwork are critical. By implementing these five simple steps, everyone is aware of their roles, expectations, and responsibilities to ensure the employee has a smooth transition back to their regular job duties, all while containing your company’s WC costs.