How to Help Your Employees Return to Work

As a business owner, your employees are important to you. Making sure they’re taken care of, especially if they’ve needed to take time off from work for an injury or illness, should be a top priority.

Related: 5 Workplace Safety Tips for Small Businesses and Startups

If one of your employees files a workers’ compensation claim after an incident at work, it’s important to support their recovery and overall well being. One way to do this is by creating a return to work program to help ease your employees back to work in an environment that accommodates their limitations.

Benefits of a Return to Work (RTW) program

Return to work programs are beneficial to both you and your employees. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Employees return to work in environment that meets their needs. You can bring back your employee on modified duty, such as part-time, that accommodates limitations they might have and still meets your business needs.
  • It helps you create a positive work culture. Knowing that you have a return to work program helps employees know they are valued and appreciated. Employees want to get back to work, knowing that they work for someone who cares about their wellbeing.

    Related: Five Tips to Boost Employee Engagement

  • It helps your bottom line and productivity. Having an employee return to work, even on modified duty, may help you retain valuable employees and reduce costs, such as avoiding hiring and training someone new.
  • It can positively impact your insurance. Companies without return to work programs can experience premium increases on their workers’ compensation policy. High workers’ comp claims can negatively impact your experience modification rate, causing a rise in premium.

How to Create a Return to Work Program

The first step to creating a return to work program is to develop a return to work policy statement. It should reflect your commitment to returning injured employees to meaningful employment as soon as they’re medically able.

Once you’ve created your statement, follow these eight steps to communicate and support your program:

  1. Communicate the program to all employees in writing.
  2. Designate a program administrator to act as the contact person.
  3. Identify suitable tasks of a light or sedentary nature for injured workers to temporarily perform while they are recovering from their injuries.
  4. Show care, concern and support for injured workers by staying in touch with them after their injury.
  5. Remind employees of your desire to have them back at work as soon as they’re medically able.
  6. Monitor the employee’s recovery progress and let their treating physician know that modified duty is available.
  7. Utilize forms and resources available from ERIE. Our claims handlers and nurse case managers can assist you in completing these forms and obtaining physician approval for modified work.
  8. Send the employee a written job offer advising him or her that modified work is available as soon as medical clearance is obtained.*

When an accident happens, you can count on our support. Your local ERIE agent can connect you with a local risk control consultant to help set up a strong return to work program. Learn more about ERIE’s Workers’ Compensation coverage.

*An employee’s return to work or acceptance of modified job duties may be impacted by the Family & Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.