Implementing a Return-to-Work program is a win-win situation for everyone involved. A successful program is designed to have an injured worker return to their usual work schedule as early as possible, and perform meaningful work, within their physical capabilities.

There are so many reasons why it is important to have a Return-to-Work program here are just a few:

Gain more control over your workers’ compensation claims.

Based on research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and American Society of Safety Engineers, the longer an injured worker is out of work due to disability, the less likely they are to ever return to work. In fact, the likelihood that a person will return to work is 90% at four weeks of absence, then begins to drop. An employee who is out of work more than six months has only a 50% chance of returning to gainful employment. And,  if lost time reaches one year, the chances of successfully returning to work drop to 5%. Additionally, 60 to 70% of lost work days involve medically unnecessary time off of work. Proactive Return-to-Work efforts play a critical role in claims management.

Avoid replacement and training costs.

Employees are an asset and should be treated as such. It is much less expensive to retain a current employee than it is to hire a new one.  “The cost of letting an employee go can far outweigh the cost of training. Accrued time off, temporary coverage costs, HR staff time, delays in production and customer service, disruptions to teamwork, and lost customers are major things to consider before replacing” Tech Scholar’s research shows. An effective Return-to-Work program helps a company retain valuable, trained talent.

Reduce workers’ compensation claims costs and reduce premiums.

Indemnity costs have a substantial impact on an employer’s experience modification.According to insurance brokers, Cavignac & Associates, “Not bringing an injured employee back to work can add thousands of dollars to the cost of the claim, and contribute painful points to the experience modification—all of which translate into higher premiums. Sometimes these additional premiums can cost a company up to three times the amount of actual disability payments made by the insurance company.” Beyond the estimated savings of 30% in lost time days, effective Return-to-Work programs can help save 35% is medical costs (Bureau of Labor and Statistics); less time on the claim translates to less medical expense.

Foster teamwork and improve morale.

According to Zurich Insurance Group, “In almost every respect, injured workers are the greatest beneficiaries of the Return-to-Work process. When productive, self-sufficient workers are disabled due to an injury or illness of any kind, the stress, uncertainty and sense of being ‘out of things’ can be significant. It can impact a person’s self-esteem, cause emotional stress and even affect the course and outcome of recovery.” Return-to-Work programs can help to encourage psychological well-being by keeping the employee connected to the workplace and social ties, and reestablishing a regular work routine while they heal.

Provide stability to the injured worker.

In most jurisdictions, injured workers receive the equivalent of 2/3 of their regular wage while on workers’ compensation benefits after an injury. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that more than half of employees who are away from work for more than 14 days are already experiencing financial difficulty. Quickly bringing the employee back to work in a modified duty capacity can help to alleviate financial pressure by providing continuation of wages, seniority, and company status.

When an employee is suffering from a job-related injury, you want to do everything you can to help them recover and return-to-work faster! The earlier an employee returns to work, the better, which is why having a program in place is so important.