Return-to-Work Blog - Focused on Workers' Compensation Cost Savings
For Return-to Work to achieve cost saving results for your workers' compensation claims, it needs to be conveyed in an aggressive way. The main goal is to re-place previously injured workers back into the workforce in some capacity within their restrictions. But in order to do that, more needs to be done on the back end, both for the injured worker as well as for your clients, whether it's a carrier, employer and/or self-insured.
Many workers have been healing and out of work for some time and perhaps have developed some form of complacency. The high majority of the time the worker, due to restrictions, is not able to return to the same job duties as pre-injury. As a result there is a Return to Work transition that needs to be accepted. Take this example:
An individual who has been a electrician for 15 years gets hurt on the job. As a result he is placed with permanent restrictions of no lifting over 15 lbs, needs to sit every hour, can not bend/stoop/kneel, no ladders and can only work 25 hours a week per physician's orders. As a result this individual can not return to his former job of an electrician thus must source jobs outside of what he is used to doing.
So naturally the individual starts applying, with help from a Return to Work vendor, to jobs he thinks may be suitable, but never receives a phone call for an interview. Why? He has a solid work history, pleasant personality, speaks well but yet can't get a single interview. Months (sometimes years!) go by and no job offers. If he has an attorney, the attorney is screaming 'Perm-Total' and the carrier is looking at a big loss on the claim.
If you think about it, the clear reason he is not getting called for interviews is because he is applying to jobs that he has no experience in. Within the stated restrictions, he may be applying to jobs such as clerical, dispatcher, sales, customer service and so on. An employer is looking at his resume' and putting it at the bottom of the pile because his skills don't match the jobs in which he is applying. Sure he has been an electrician for 15 years but no customer service skills, no clerical skills, etc...Is this the worker's fault? Heck no! It's the vendor's fault for not doing more for the worker. Advocacy to employers is crucial for workers' compensation claims needing Return to Work...and cost savings!
In many states, the worker, once medically cleared to do so, must cooperate with returning to work and has a duty to mitigate costs. The Return-to-Work vendor (the good ones anyway) has a duty to do more than just supply job leads to the worker. If the worker is only able (due to tight restrictions) to do work he is not experienced in, the vendor needs to advocate more than a resume' to prospective employers. This is often lacking and is a large reason claims drag on and rack up vocational costs.
The point is simple - if you are working with a Return-to-Work vendor, make sure you know what their processes are. How are they working the claim relating to getting the worker back to work?
Another reason to do more than just supply job leads is to test the worker's motivation to return to work. Often times there is noncompliance present and only asking the worker to apply to jobs will not get the results the carrier is looking for.
Doing more on the back end in terms of job development and placement is the only true way to bring results to the claim.
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Thanks for reading!