By decreasing work time lost from to job-related injuries and illnesses, Return-to-Work (RTW) programs can reduce your insurance costs (Workers Compensation, Disability, and Medical insurance), strengthen workplace morale, boost productivity – and help protect you against ADAAA litigation.
Here are ten common mistakes by businesses when using RTW:
- Failure to manage the higher number of employees covered by the ADAAA. An expanded definition of disability has increased the number of employees under the ADA to the point that some attorneys advise against fighting disability claims.
- Insisting on employee release to “full duty” before returning to work. This raises Workers Comp costs and the possibility of the employee not returning to work when medically possible.
- Ignoring co-morbidities. Health issues that complicate or delay an employee’s recovery (such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension) can increase Comp claims.
- Failure to commit the necessary budget or resources. The costs of absences and non-compliance with government rules is usually far higher than that of implementing an RTW.
- Reluctance to set transitional assignments because employees “might get reinjured.” It’s even riskier to have them stay at home and develop a “disability attitude” that extends the absence and boosts costs.
- Failure to distinguish “light duty” from “transitional work.” The ADAAA permits employers to reserve less physically demanding or “light-duty” jobs for those with work-related disabilities – and these jobs should be distinct from transitional tasks.
- Relying on physicians to guide the RTW process. Although physicians are medical experts, they’re not familiar with workplace policies, job demands, and the availability of transitional work.
- Failure to understand overlapping and conflicting laws. The clashing requirements of insurance companies and state and local governments can be a nightmare.
- Inability to focus on the goal. An Integrated Benefits Institute study ranked a focus on the employee’s job as the major success factor in successful RTW programs.
- Believing that Workers Comp settlements resolve other liabilities. One size does not fit all.