When employees or staff are out due to illness or injury, it can severely impact your business. The loss of productivity, need to hire a temporary replacement, and workers’ compensation or disability payments can take a toll on your bottom line and disrupt projects. A return to work policy can help mitigate these effects, allowing team members to get back to work more quickly, in a modified capacity. This can save you money, while also improving employee morale and satisfaction.
What is a return to work policy?
According to the Council for Disability Awareness, 25% of workers will suffer an injury or illness that takes them out of work for 3 months or more. Often, employees who have a condition that leaves them unable to perform their full duties must remain out of work until they are fully recovered. If an injury renders the employee disabled for an extended period of time, a long term disability attorney will make sure they get the appropriate care and compensation they deserve. A return to work policy helps the employees get productive sooner by providing accommodations and job changes to allow them to work in a modified capacity as soon as they are able. By defining light-work duties, encouraging telecommuting and reducing work hours, employees are able to re-engage with their team, contributing to the company in increasing measure while they regain their full health.
An effective policy can reduce employee absence time by 3.8 weeks (42%). This reduces workers’ compensation and disability costs, increases morale, and increases productivity. This type of policy also helps you keep your company in line with disability-related laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family Medical Leave Act, OSHA, and state laws. It is an important addition to your Risk Management and Disability policies.
What is included in a return to work policy?
An effective return to work policy will utilize a team approach to incorporate the many aspects involved in returning a disabled employee to the fold. This will often include a Return to Work Coordinator, management personnel, insurance specialists, claims teams, and medical providers. Your policy should include:
- A clearly stated policy on what types of accommodations can be made.
- Safety and claims staff to monitor disability status and work safety until the employee can return to full duty or the situation is otherwise resolved.
- Designated medical providers who can approve employee safety in light of their disability.
- A description of light duty and job descriptions to present to medical professionals for safety approval.
How can you create a return to work (RTW) policy?
Creating a successful policy may seem overwhelming for a business owner. Fortunately, there are resources available to help employers get started and understand how a return to work policy will benefit their business specifically. It is also possible to outsource the creation of this policy.
When creating your return to work policy, it’s important to remember that employees at all levels will need to be educated on the benefits of returning to work sooner, as an effective policy will utilize the teamwork between the disabled employee, management, and the business owner to ensure a safe return to work. It may be helpful to hire a Return to Work Coordinator, or supervisors who are well-versed in this type of policy. These specialists will be able to manage the RTW program, to ensure its efficiency.
Your employee’s compensation policy provider can also be an important resource in developing a return to work policy. These insurance agents will be able to help you understand how this policy will help reduce your workers’ compensation costs, giving you an accurate view of how little it costs to accommodate staff instead of paying workers’ compensation and disability insurance payments. Government agencies, attorneys, and medical advisors can also help ensure that your policy will provide a safe transition for disabled staff by providing legal and medical guidance specific to your industry. Go ahead and check my reference on the best injury lawyers near you.
A return to work policy is an important component of your Risk Management strategy, and can save you a considerable amount of money when an employee is forced out of work by injury or illness. By making accommodations for disabled team members, they are able to re-enter the workforce weeks earlier, minimizing the disruption to your company.Educating your staff on the benefits of these policies will ensure a smooth addition of this policy to your other worker’s benefits programs, and there are many resources available to help you get started. Consulting with an attorney and medical professionals will help make sure your policy is safe and adheres to all disability-related laws set by the state and federal governments.