A Return-to-Work (RTW) Program can help lower Workers' Compensation costs. Injured employees who can return to work – even if they're on modified or transitional duty – recover more quickly and feel more productive and connected with their workplace. Employers benefit by reducing the likelihood of litigation and – of course – controlling Workers' Compensation claim costs.
What are Modified and Transitional Duty?
Sometimes injured employees can come back to work for what is called modified duty. Modified duty allows injured employees to perform their original duties with some modifications. With modified duty, the PA Department of Labor & Industry states, "Every effort will be made to place the employee in the most productive assignment available." Modified duty may include a shorter workday or providing a chair for the injured employee, so they can sit while working.
However, sometimes restrictions imposed by the treating physician are too much to allow an injured employee to return to their regular duties, which is where transitional duty comes into play. With transitional duty, an employer is looking for something within the company that the injured employee can perform and still meet the physician's restrictions.
For example, you may move a factory worker into the office to help – maybe scanning documents or answering phones. The idea is that the injured employee is gradually transitioned back to their original duties.
The Key to Successful Transitional Duty
The key to successfully transitioning an injured employee back to their regular job is communication, so weekly meetings are essential. Those meetings should be held by a transitional duty coordinator or the supervisor handling the injured worker's RTW. Here are the benefits of weekly meetings.
Weekly Meetings Keep Injured Employees Connected
Humans are a social species, so it's essential that employees performing transitional duties feel connected to their supervisors and co-workers. Weekly meetings boost morale, enhance self-worth, and make injured employees feel like valued members of the team.
Weekly Meetings Help Transition Injured Employees More Quickly
Weekly meetings allow the employer and injured employee to work together so the employee can transition into other duties and move closer to their regular responsibilities more quickly.
Injured employees should bring any changes in their medical condition, such as medications, work restrictions, and physician's recommendations to the weekly meetings. This allows the employer to determine if an injured employee is building strength or capabilities.
The employee can discuss concerns they have or any obstacles they foresee in transitioning into new duties. Together, the employee and employer can address those needs and discuss options. Sometimes a simple change – such as an ergonomic chair – can allow an injured employee to transition into a duty closer to their regular work.
The Weekly Meetings
During the weekly meetings, make sure that the injured employee feels like a valuable part of the team. Allow them to be a part of the conversation that will allow them to return to their regular duties.
Here are a few tips:
- Send a letter to the injured employee's home address informing them of the meeting's time and date. If possible, send an email reminder of the meeting.
- If the injured employee is unable to drive due to the injury, provide transportation to the meetings.
- Make sure you follow all state and federal regulations, such as ADA, FMLA, and COBRA.
- Allow for an open dialogue so the employee feels comfortable expressing his or her concerns.
- Ensure that the employee is fit to perform new transitional duties safely.
Save on Workers' Compensation Insurance
Another way to save on Workers' Compensation Insurance costs is to work with an agent who has experience with WC. American Insuring Group has specialized in WC for many years and can help your company save on Workers' Compensation costs. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.