7 Secrets that Cost Your Client a Bundle on their Workers' Comp

The key to a healthy company: eliminating lost injury time

4 years, 11 months ago

As the unemployment rate continues to head south, more and more employers have a difficult time finding qualified employees to meet their needs. This means that it’s more important than ever for employers to have an effective strategy to return employees to work as quickly as possible when they suffer an on-the-job injury. Employers must have a strong Recovery-at-Work program before someone is injured. The saying goes, “The best time to fix a hole in your roof is when the sun is shining.”

That being said, here are the essential components of a successful Recovery-at-Work program:

1)Physician Relationship
When injured employees see a doctor with an employer relationship who understands the business and its Recovery-at-Work process, employees can be released back to work (with restrictions) immediately.

However, when an injured employee is sent out to choose their own doctors, bad things can happen. Even a good doctor is unlikely to send an employee back to work if they don’t have a commitment from the employer that they will respect the restrictions the doctor prescribes.

Most states allow for some direction of care, letting the employer choose the treating physician. Take advantage of this and communicate with the doctors that treat your injured employees so they know you will accommodate the workers. Even in states where you cannot direct care, you can send a letter to the treating physician with the injured employee informing them of your commitment to return injured employees to work.

2)Management Commitment
Management must be 100% committed to bringing every injured employee back to work, no matter their status or restrictions.

3)Job Bank
The moment an employee returns from the doctor’s office is not the time to be brainstorming job tasks for that employee until they can return to their pre-injury job. Employers should already have in place a bank of jobs that employees can perform when they are injured and an understanding of the physical requirements of those jobs, so injured employees can be placed within the prescribed restrictions. Of course, there will be situations where none of the jobs are appropriate and employers will have to improvise, but those occurrences are few and far between. Not sure where to start? Ask your employees.

4)Employees who understand
Train employees about how workers’ comp works before they get injured. Let them know they will be brought back to work as soon as a doctor releases them, even if it’s not to their full-duty position. This means making employees aware of the benefits of workers’ compensation. The fact that medical costs are covered 100%, the statutory waiting period when they will not be paid if they are not at work, how indemnity payments work, and more. Let your employees know they aren’t alone in the workers’ compensation process, and that you’ll be actively helping with their case and treatment.

Some Additional Benefits of Returning Employees to Work

1)The employee is paid less indemnity
Study after study points to reduced time away from full-duty work when an employer brings employees back to work before they are fully recovered.

2)Decreased attorney involvement
Injured workers who are at work are not sitting at home watching TV when it’s filled with attorney ads. Injured workers who are at work are not fearful that their employer doesn’t care or that they are not receiving the benefits they are entitled to. In turn, they are less likely to retain an attorney for their claims. Attorney involvement doubles (at least) the cost of a claim, so keeping injured employees away from attorneys leads to a lower mod, lower costs, and more productivity.

3)A lower experience mod
When you can avoid indemnity entirely and keep an injury medical only, most states give you a 70% discount on your experience mod for that injury. Even in states where you don’t get the discount, reducing the cost of the injury causes your experience mod to be lower than it would have been otherwise. Even when you can’t avoid indemnity, bringing that injured employee back results in lower indemnity payments and a corresponding lower mod.

4)An employee is more likely to return, period
When an employee is out of work for 12 weeks, there’s a 50/50 chance they will ever return to the job they held prior to the injury. Every day, an injured employee is away from work is a day it is less likely they are ever coming back. Replacing a good employee is difficult and expensive!

Employers implementing a Recovery-at-Work program reduce their workers’ compensation costs. On top of that, they minimize the lost production time when an employee is injured. The indirect costs can pile up quickly: jobs that are late, overtime, hiring new people (who might not be as productive) and more. Beyond all this, employers who bring their injured employees back to work quickly are more likely to have a positive corporate culture. That culture will have benefits far beyond your workers’ compensation results.