Workers’ compensation cases have the potential to grow into difficult, costly long term claims if they are not dealt with properly at the outset. Preparation is key for getting claims handled quickly. Some employees can feel overwhelmed by the workers compensation system, and they are unsure of the claim handling process and what steps should be taken.
Employers should establish an immediate line of communication with the injured worker, and keep them informed about how the claim is progressing and their in-network treatment options. One effective way that employers can be prepared for on-the-job injuries and workers compensation claims is to have an established Return to Work program or policy.
How Return to Work Programs Affect Workers’ Compensation
Return to Work programs can help decrease the time it takes to resolve a workers’ compensation claim. By having a set policy in place, it becomes less likely that a case could slip through the cracks because no one claimed responsibility to manage and monitor the claim.
The program also defines a clear process for the steps an employee should take if they do get injured on the job, as well as what managers should do when they receive an incident report. Return to Work programs can also provide guidelines for physicians that outline what the original job description involved and what modified duty options are available. This allows the physician to give an accurate assessment of when the employee can safely return to work.
Proactive RTW Policies Help Reduce Lost Time
One of the biggest costs to employers in workers’ compensation cases is the amount of lost time when an employee is injured. A proactive Return to Work program can help employees return to their jobs in modified or alternate duty, therefore decreasing the amount of lost time and investment needed to potentially train a new employee for the position.
Resources for Employers
There are many online resources available for employers regarding workers’ compensation and return to work programs.
– The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has compiled an extensive breakdown of Return to Work Programs, accommodation options, The Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, and more: http://askjan.org/media/rtwprograms.html
– Business Insurance offers news and information to executives and business owners about risk management, workers’ compensation, and employee benefits, among other topics. This video is part of their Business Insurance In Focus series, and profiles Alternative Light Duty Programs. http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20150802/VIDEO/150739961/alternative-light-duty-programs-tackle-return-to-work-challenges?tags=|309|70|92|329|304
– If you’re just getting started developing a Return to Work program for your company, take a look at our program template: http://www.catalystrtw.com/return-to-work-program-template/
Resources for Employees
– The Department of Labor has created the Family and Medical Leave Act Employee Guide, an easy to understand brochure that addresses FMLA coverage and eligibility, communicating with emplooyers, and returning to work. http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/employeeguide.htm
– JAN’s Employees’ Practical Guide to Negotiating and Requesting Reasonable Accommodations Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) details how employees can go about requesting and negotiating workplace accommodations. http://askjan.org/EeGuide/