You may have heard of Return to Work programs in relation to workers’ compensation cases. But what is a Return to Work program? Does your business need one? We’ve got the answers for you. Keep reading to find out what Return to Work programs do, how they help employers and employees, and how you can begin developing a program in your company.
The Definition of a Return to Work Program
A Return to Work program is a process for allowing injured, ill, or disabled workers to return to their job duties as soon as they are able, as defined by their physician. The worker’s original job duties may be modified through light duty or accommodations, or even a temporary position elsewhere within the company. The goal of a RTW program is to eventually bring the worker back to their full position after they have recovered.
Why a Return to Work Program is Important
A formalized RTW program has many benefits. First, when workers’ compensation cases last longer than 6 months, it becomes more likely that the injured employee will never return to work. These unresolved cases cost companies huge amounts of money, and represent lost wages for the worker. Formalized RTW programs can help decrease these costs and keep employees in the workforce.
Returning an injured worker to job duties faster can also help reduce costs of disability leave. The employer also saves on the training time and costs that would be necessary if a new employee had to be hired and trained. These programs also ensure that businesses are compliant with laws related to workplace safety and disability, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
For the worker, an RTW program helps them return to their original wages sooner, eliminating the need to rely on disability payments. The worker keeps their skills up to date while productively contributing to the company.
How an Employer can Begin Developing a Return to Work Program
In order to establish a RTW program, companies should define their process and policy for handling injuries, whether occupational or off-the-job. These policies should be clearly written and provided to every employee.
If your business needs assistance in getting started with a RTW program, CatalystRTW can help. We work as your partner to find employment for injured workers, even in the most difficult workers’ compensation and long-term disability cases.