Establishing an effective return-to-work program is widely accepted as one of the most significant cost-saving measures for managing employees’ workers’ compensation injuries. This panel discussion at WCI’s 2017 Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference reviewed trends in return-to-work program administration.
The panel included:
- Frances Ford, Co-Founder, ReEmployAbility (moderator)
- Nathan Hughes, Director of Risk Management, Safelite Group
- Jodie Massingill, Senior Manager of Casualty Claims, Sysco Corporation
- Patricia Rodriguez, Return-to-Work Specialist, Crum & Forster
Research supports that returning employees to work through transitional duty not only provides cost containment, but it can also help reduce the incidence of depression, improve worker morale, and promote physical well-being.
There are several challenges related to return to work:
- Educating employers. This requires constant education on how to find transitional duty. If the employer does not have adequate modified duty work, there are programs that will assign the injured employee to work at a charitable organization.
- It takes many people to manage a modified duty program. It’s essential to include human resources and operations. It takes a village and everyone needs to be on the same page.
- Resistance from managers in the field. Often you get people who do not want to pay an employee to “sit around and do nothing”. You have to get buy in from the field, educating them on the benefits of modified duty for the worker and to the organization as a whole.
Return-to-work is evolving slightly because we have an ever-changing workforce. Employers are beginning to implement more interactive processes where things like FLMA/ADAAA are discussed openly. This is helpful because it forces human resources and legal to be on the same page.
In addition, employers are seeing success with transitional duty and are making it a priority. The culture has changed related to the speed in which employers are assigning employees to modified duty.