Helping injured employees return to work
Many injured workers are unable to return to their regular jobs until after they
have completely recuperated. But with a commitment to temporary modified duty, you
can help your injured workers remain a productive part of your work environment.
What is modified duty?
Modified duty is a short-term
assignment that matches an injured employee’s medical restrictions with temporary,
light-duty tasks — lasting only until they are able to return to their regular jobs.
Modified duty enables injured employees to continue working while they recover.
Virtually every workplace has light-duty
tasks. These light-duty tasks may be performed by several different people
– or they may be useful tasks that no one has time to do. Take into account the
skills of the employee and their specific medical restrictions, and then match the
employee to any light-duty tasks that are available. (Your claims adjuster can help
you with any local regulatory requirements.) Modified duty doesn’t have to be full-time.
Your company can still realize the benefits of modified duty through part-time and
even intermittent tasks.
The Return on Investment for a Modified Duty program
Typically, employers pay two-thirds of a day’s pay from workers’ compensation benefits
for every day an employee cannot work, according to the International Risk Management
Institute. If the employee returns to work for half-a-day, the employer has a financial
gain—even if the employer pays the injured worker full wages. The moral: It’s better
to pay full pay for half-a-day’s work than two-thirds of full pay for no work.
Studies have found that with a modified duty program workers returned to work three
to four weeks earlier. Think of the savings to the employer (not paying overtime,
hiring temporary workers, etc.) Plus the worker who returns to modified duty contributes
to operations, while recovering from the workplace injury.
Investing in a modified duty program reaps the benefits financially
Keeping injured employees connected to the work environment is your tool for controlling
workers’ compensation costs. Through modified duty:
- Injured employees stay active and recover more quickly.
- Injured employees return to work faster.
- Coworkers will see that every team member is valued.
- Insurance costs are kept to a minimum, keeping your company
- Your employees stay focused on returning to their regular jobs as soon as possible, based on approval from their medical provider.
By keeping modified duty task-oriented, you prevent modified duty from becoming
a full-time job.
Core material provided by LynchRyan, a management consulting firm specializing in
workers' compensation cost controls.