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Readers Blog: Wisconsin Insurance Solutions

Importance of a Return to Work Policy


By: Tony Matera / twitter @Insuring_WI

I am truly amazed when I have the chance to sit down for the first time with a potential client and they tell me that they do not currently have a return to work program, and that they are not sure if they even need one. Many excuses are, well we are too small, we really don’t have light duty, or they don’t want to pay someone who isn’t 100% and risk further injury.

All valid points on the surface but once we go over the FACTS of the benefits of a strong Return to Work program (RTW) few of my clients aren’t asking for me to help set one up.

What is a Return-to-Work Program?

A RTW program is an employer-implemented program that allows recently injured employees to return to work under the restrictions of their treating physician. This is commonly referred to as light duty. Most successful programs are created with feedback from management, HR and an employee representative.

The Benefits of RTW Programs

RTW programs are mutually beneficial to both the injured employee and the company. Employees benefit by being back to work and provided modified work assignments rather than being placed on disability pay (which often is only a percentage of the full wage). In many cases, RTW programs also accelerate physical recovery – the opportunity for re-injury is minimized since employees are required to adhere to their medical restrictions while at work. Employees want to work, and seeing their counter parts working and them restricted to light duty often motivates employee to a faster recovery. Not to mention the emotional pride the employee feels working rather than sitting at home.

This is truly a win-win as Employers stand to benefit from a strong RTW program as well. By showing your employee’s you care by fostering good faith and loyalty towards their respective employees (a well taken care of employee is more likely to readily return to full duty as soon as medically possible), controlling worker compensation costs (which in turn controls experience modification ratings and insurance premiums) and preventing and/or limiting lost work day cases.

That last point is black and white. Let’s look at a small company paying $50,000 a year in workers compensation premium. (Understanding Workers Compensation Experience Modification

A worker suffers a minor $5,000 claim and with a return to work program in place the claim is calculated on your experience mod with a 70% discount resulting in a .05 impact on the mod or $8,700 additional premium over the next three years.

Same $5,000 claim with no return to work and lost time the claim is calculated at 100% producing a .19 impact on the mod and $28,980 additional premium over the next three years.

RTW programs also help maintain the line of communication between the injured employee and the company. If an employee is not promptly returned to work, that communication usually is severed, which almost always eliminates effective case management opportunities and increases the chance of fraud.

Lastly, employers save on reducing training costs for replacement employees and the replacements inability to perform their job as efficiently.

A Return to Loyalty

Successful business leaders tend to identify human capital as a company’s greatest asset, and RTW programs safeguard those assets. RTW programs are a must for companies interested in ethical employee relations.

In short, RTW programs are not only the right thing to do both ethically and professionally, but they go a long way in establishing a stable, loyal work force. That's a return any employer would want.

I hope this week’s look at insurance and the importance of a return to work policy has helped. As always if you want more information or have questions please feel free to contact me directly. Thanks for checking in. 

Be Safe! 

Tony Matera is a licensed independent insurance advisor with Ansay and Associates out of Port Washington WI. And is the Servicing Agent for ONMILWAUKEE.COM  For more information contact him at or call directly at 262-376-3248

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