No matter what industry you work in, there is always the risk that something could go wrong, and that one of your employees could be injured, contract an illness, or experience something else that would necessitate a break from working. Last year, 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by employers in the private industry, and nearly one-third of these injuries and illnesses were deemed “of a more serious nature” and required the employees in question to take days off of work.
You should have a Workers’ Compensation insurance policy in place that will cover your company in the event of an incident and help the employee to get the help that they need, but the process should not stop upon compensation and time away from work. Studies have shown that the longer an employee is away from the job, the less likely they are to ever return. Take a look at these figures:
- An employee who spends six months away from their job has a 50 percent chance of returning to that employer.
- Once the employee has spent one year away from work, their chance of returning goes down to 25 percent.
- If the employee has been away from work for two years or more, there is a less than 2 percent chance of them returning.
A return-to-work program will help to prevent an employee from permanently leaving your company after one incident. These are some of the benefits of a return-to-work program:
- It gets them back to work sooner. Studies have found that the presence of an effective return-to-work program will on average reduce an injured employee’s absence by 3.6 weeks. In the event that the incident results in a permanent disability, a return-to-work program reduces the time away from work by 12.6 weeks.
- It lets them know you care. These incidents can be scary for the affected employees. On top of the changes to their health, they are likely feeling isolated and concerned about if or when they will be able to return to work. A return-to-work program will maintain a steady line of communication with the employee and keep them in the loop about everything that is going on at your company, and it will help them to feel more at ease in this difficult time if they know that you genuinely care about their well-being.
- It keeps the process organized. There are many things to keep in mind during the workers’ compensation and RTW process. You need to compensate the injured employee, you need to coordinate with their doctor to ascertain when or if they will be able to return to work, you need to reallocate their work while they are out of commission, and you may need to adjust their job duties when they return to work to account for any lingering injuries. A concrete return-to-work program that is planned, written, and discussed with all of your employees will help you to streamline the process and make sure that everyone is safe and in the know.
As a final note, make sure that you are in compliance with your state’s laws regarding disabilities and injured employees. It has been found that employees who do not understand their legal rights and responsibilities before an incident resulting in a claim are more likely to retain attorneys after the fact. The rights do vary based upon the state, so make sure to check your state legislature so that you will know whether you are legally required to provide medical care, vocational rehabilitation, disability payments, wage loss, or other benefits.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in providing Workers’ Compensation insurance to residential care facilities, including offering a program designed for members of the Indiana Health Care Association (IHCA), HOPE, and Leading Age Indiana associations. We can assist you in reviewing an existing Workers’ Compensation plan, securing coverage, boosting safety plans and implementing RTW programs for your nursing home clients. Please contact us at 317.575.4440.