Establishing a Return-to-Work Program
Return to Work (RTW) Programs are one of the many tools that can be implemented for Workers Compensation claims. With an RTW program in place, you will ultimately keep your claims costs low, which saves you money for years to come.
The goal for every Workers Compensation claim should be the prompt return to work of the injured worker. This is good for the worker and reduces the employer's claims cost. Keep in mind that transitional duty can be full-time or part-time, with potential supplemental benefits. The main goal is to return the individual to his or her original job at the earliest possible time.
There are 4 items that are needed to implement a return to work program. They are:
1. Written return to work policy and procedure
2. Written offer of modified or transitional duty work
3. Job descriptions of transitional duty jobs available on a temporary basis, if employee is unable to perform their regular job within the work restrictions (modified duty)
4. Communication with the doctor/physician's panel regarding the company's commitment to return to work.
The first step is to develop a written return to work policy and procedure. This communicates the management's philosophy of providing modified and transitional duty following a work injury, management's expectation that the employee participates, and the consequences for noncompliance. This should be part of the new hiring orientation packet so employees are aware of the RTW expectation at the onset of employment. This also should be reviewed at the time of injury.
In the craft beverage business, it doesn't have to be difficult to find work for an injured employee. Here are just a few ideas to help design a productive, temporary duty position within an injured employee's work restrictions:
1. Weighing Hops, Helping with Recipes
2. Counting Inventory
3. Planning for festivals and other events
4. Social Media Promotions
5. Sales Calls to new or existing accounts
6. Phone Answering: Answer phones, make announcements/pages, and perform minimal office work
7. Cleaning tap lines, sanitizing, cleaning tanks
8. Helping with the employee work schedules
The final step is communication with the doctor/physician's panel and the work release. The employer should establish a working relationship with a clinic or doctor(s) who is familiar with your business and your return to work program.
At each visit, the doctor should provide the employee with clear, written work restrictions or a work release. The return-to-work procedure instructs the employee to provide a copy of the work release after each appointment. You should also remind the employee to bring you a work release after each appointment. If the employee does not have this document, call the insurance carrier for assistance or the doctor's office to clarify if any work restrictions exist.
The modified or transitional duty positions are intended to result in regular employment. A general rule of thumb is that the same modified position should not exceed 90 days. If the period goes beyond 90 days, the job could be misconstrued as a permanent position.
In many states, if the employee quits or employment is terminated for reasons unrelated to the injury (i.e. dishonesty) while released to modified or transitional duty, the insurance carrier must continue to pay time loss benefits unless the company can prove a valid offer of modified or transitional duty was made to the employee.
A valid offer consists of: Attending physician approval, written offer of work, and a written return-to-work policy.
All of these are vital in reducing the claims costs if faced with this situation.
Also, if you have an employee who has been released by their doctor to modified or transitional duty but refuses to return to work, call your insurance carrier to discuss the situation and options available.
Return-to-work leads to cost savings on claims and results in savings of Workers Compensation insurance costs. In addition, the employer maintains control of the claim by offering productive work that does need to get done within your brewery, distillery, winery, or restaurant business.
At Craft Brewing Insurance, our goal is to provide you with as many tools as you would like to use in running the most cost effective, profitable craft beverage business. If you would like more information on a topic, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by posting a comment below!
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