One of the most effective methods in controlling your worker’s compensation costs is to implement a return to work program. Many studies have shown that injured employees recover faster when they return to work. An early return to work can also help to cost claims expenses, reduce downtime, and eliminate the need for additional staff.
The essential component of a return to work program is learning to promote an early return. Research has shown that the longer an injured employee is off work, the more likely the employee is to become permanently disabled. Returning your employees to work as early as possible will help you to:
- Gain more control over your workers’ compensation claims.
- Reduce compensation premiums and claims costs.
- Regain productivity form recovering employees.
- Avoid replacement and training costs.
- Avoid expensive litigation and discourage fraudulent claims.
- Improve employee morale and foster teamwork.
- Increase awareness of safe work practices.
An early return-to-work program may take less time and effort than you think. In general, there are four steps to building a successful return-to-work program:
- Assess how you currently handle employees after a job-related injury or illness. Identify key employees who should be involved in developing or improving your program.
- Plan your return-to-work program. Once established, distribute the written policy. Teach your employees and all those involved how the program will be implemented.
- Implement your program proactively, talking with employees about their injuries and ability to return to work. Make reasonable efforts to offer meaningful, transitional jobs that safely bring them back to work as early as possible. Follow their progress closely until they return to regular duty.
- Evaluate the success of your program and make modifications or improvements as necessary.
The time and effort that is put into implementing a return to work program is well worth it and will result in reducing our worker’s compensation costs. If you need additional resources or assistance call your regional State Fund Office. One of their Return-to-Work Consultants will be happy to help you create an efficient, effective program.
(This article was edited and reprinted from State Compensation Insurance Fund.) Published on September 2012.