When employees are injured on the job, some are tempted to take advantage of workers’ compensation benefits. By implementing a program that offers good incentive to return, employers can reduce the risk of paying more benefits than necessary. Recent research shows that employers lose about 80 million work days because of injuries or illnesses that happen on the job. The number of employees who take off more than seven work days because of injuries or illnesses stretches into the millions. This means that employers are left to deal with the high cost of workers’ compensation premiums, lost productivity and disability benefits. However, by creating a special incentive program, employers can greatly reduce these costs.
When an employee must take time off of work due to an injury or illness, a physician will regularly examine that individual. These exams determine whether the worker is ready to return to his or her previous tasks. In some cases, it may be possible to get the individual back to work sooner. For example, consider a worker who is injured while lifting boxes in a warehouse. The attending physician will be examining the employee to determine whether he or she is ready to lift boxes again. If the employee has a back injury, it could be several weeks before returning to work is possible. However, if the employer offered the worker an easy temporary job in the office, the worker may be able to return much sooner. To make something like this happen, a special return program must be set in place. A solid program should have the following features:
– Addresses environmental, physical, knowledge and emotional factors that may prevent employees from returning to work.
– Makes the transition from temporary to full-time work easier for employees.
– Focuses on employees’ abilities instead of their disabilities.
– Improves employee morale by increasing incentives for returning to work and staying safe.
– Maintains productivity by lowering the number of lost work days.
These programs help speed up employees’ recovery processes. Recent research shows that 50 percent of employees who stay out of work for more than six months will never return to their jobs. If they stay out more than one year, the likelihood of returning to work is about 10 percent. Getting employees back to work as quickly as possible is the best way to bring about feelings of accomplishment for the injured individual. It also lessens the financial impact on the employee and his or her family. To make sure a program is as comprehensive as possible, include the following elements:
– Provisions that require meaningful tasks instead of simple busy work.
– Employee eligibility criteria.
– Provisions for alternative work assignments that benefit the employer and employee.
– Descriptions of duties the injured employee must perform.
– Provisions for situations where employees may have to take additional medical leave time after returning to work.
– Stated conditions and time parameters for temporary assignments.
In addition to saving money for employers, these special programs have many other benefits, which include the following:
– Makes it easier to keep valuable employees and obtain production from recovering workers.
– Makes communication happen between employees, employers and doctors instead of between employees and their doctors.
– Makes it difficult for employees to stay out of work longer and unnecessarily take advantage of benefits.
– Reduces the need to recruit, hire and train new workers.
– Reduces the length of time for disability payments to injured workers.
– Shows the employer’s concern for the injured employee’s health.
– Reduces the employer’s cost of compensation claims, which makes the employer look better to insurance companies offering competitive pricing.
For employers everywhere, workers’ compensation consumes a sizable portion of overall personnel costs. By having a solid return program, employers can reduce those costs and many others. In addition to this, it is easier to keep employees happy. To learn more about this beneficial type of program, discuss the options with an agent.