Return-to-Work (RTW) programs are instrumental in helping injured workers transition from being out of commission to getting back on the job. Typically RTW programs involve assigning workers once they are green-lighted by physicians to modified and alternative duties until they’re able to perform their jobs. RTW programs benefit employees as they have the ability to retain full earning capacity, maintain a productive mindset, stay on a regular work schedule, avoid dependence on Workers’ Compensation, and gain a sense of security and stability. Employers benefit from these programs as they can reduce the financial impact of workplace injuries; provide a proactive approach to cost containment; improve their ability to manage an injury claim and any restrictions; get experienced employees back to work, resulting in less time and money spent on recruiting and hiring; and reduce disability costs.
Yet while well-structured RTW programs are effective across many diverse industries, for some niches such as construction, manufacturing or transportation placing injured workers in modified positions or transitional work is not always feasible. The work involved in these industries is highly physical or exerting (such as heavy lifting) and many employees fear re-injury while they are still rehabilitating. To address this concern and help get workers back on the job, innovative approaches to the entire RTW concept have been developed.
One such program works with employers to get injured employees volunteering at a non-profit while they are recovering. The program includes relationships with a network of thousands of non-profit organizations in communities across the country and can place employees with an organization to perform transitional volunteer work. These non-profits provide workers with a sense of purpose while building their confidence that they’ll be able to return to their regular duties with their employer once they are fully recovered.
The program is designed to get workers out of the house and engaged in a routine while providing an opportunity to contribute to their communities. Workers are not only expected to follow the non-profit’s requirements but also that of their employer’s policies. While volunteering at the non-profit, the employer pays the worker’s wages. In addition, the employer assumes any liability should the worker become reinjured while volunteering at the non-profit.
The objective of this type of program as with any RTW strategy is to reduce the number of days an employee is not at work. Studies show that the chances of a worker returning to work drops with each month that goes by. For example, there is a 50% chance of an employee returning to work after 6 months and a 25% chance after a year of not working.
Caitlin Morgan specializes in providing Workers’ Compensation insurance solutions and assisting employers with risk management strategies, including RTW programs and other innovative approaches, to help get workers back on the job and reduce the costs involved in loss of productivity, medical spend, and other factors. Give us a call at 877.226.1027 for more information about our programs.