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Create an Idea Bank
of Transitional Duty Alternate Jobs for a Return-to-Work
Program

Proactive early return-to-work programs have proven highly effective in containing and reducing the costs of workers' compensation for employers.

To help our policyholders implement such a program, Chesapeake Employers has prepared a basic guide in print and as an online PDF called "Creating a Return to Work Program" PDF Link. The guide is designed to provide general overview information to create early return-to-work programs.

An important part of a return-to-work program is to identify possible alternate jobs, which are medically authorized, for an injured worker to perform. It may be referred to as: Modified duty, Alternate Duty, Limited Duty, Restricted duty, or Transitional work. These terms are used synonymously and refer to duty that is intended to be time-limited, temporary, productive and meaningful. The most common scenario this applies to is for temporary, light duty job restrictions. For permanent restrictions, please contact your claims adjuster for additional information.

Type of Injuries

Injured workers with the following types of temporary injuries could possibly perform various types of alternate jobs. Note: First you must have the treating physician medically authorize/document and release the injured worker for alternate or light duty.

· Soft tissue back injury - able to walk, sit or stand and use their arms and hands.
· Ankle/foot/leg injury - cannot stand or walk but by using a wheelchair, some transitional duty could be performed. Or, a task that could be done at a seated workstation for persons who can walk, but just can't stand for long periods of time.
· Shoulder/arm/or hand injury -jobs that require using only one hand could possibly be   performed.

Ideas for building your own "Alternate Duty Job Bank"

1. Answering the telephone
2. Filing paperwork
3. Taking inventory (but not physically moving inventory stock)
4. Tool room/storage checkout
5. Placing purchase orders by phone, fax, e-mail etc.
6. Shredding documents
7. Customer appreciation phone calls, telephone sales calls, dispatch assistant
8. Greeter/receptionist/front desk assistant
9. Computer data entry work
10. Collating printed materials
11. Packaging/light assembly of product or merchandise
12. Outgoing mail stuffing, applying postage
13. Incoming mail opening, mail bin distribution
14. Making photocopies
15. Light stocking of supplies for bathrooms/kitchen areas
16. Help with safety inspections, jobsite safety monitor, ensure employees are wearing the appropriate equipment
17. Teacher/instructor (Many times you may have experienced employees who are injured who may be able to return to work teaching younger or less experienced employees.)
18. Light food preparation that can be performed sitting down
19. Light surface cleaning, counters, phones, computers

What other tasks/jobs can you think of in your workplace?

Be creative with identifying alternate job tasks
Schedule a meeting of supervisors and employees to suggest alternate duty jobs.
Encourage everyone to come up with as many suggestions as possible, even if initially they may think the ideas are unrealistic. The way to come up with a couple good ideas is to have a lot of possible ideas. Be creative and look at what meaningful work/job tasks need to be done in your workplace. List the physical activities for each task, as this will assist the physician in understanding the work.

Frequently asked questions about return-to-work

1. Does my injured worker require a treating physician's release to start transitional duty? Yes. The job description for the transitional duty position can be provided to the physician for approval or the physician may supply a detailed listing of restrictions that the employer can review.

2. What if the injured worker is medically released and able to perform transitional duty work, but refuses to come back to work? If duty is available that meets the restrictions provided by the physician and the injured worker elects not to accept the job, the injured worker is not eligible for Temporary Total Disability benefits from Chesapeake Employers.

3. What if my injured worker is medically released for transitional duty, but the injury prevents him/her from driving a vehicle? Can I arrange for transportation? Yes. This is a good practice to aid the injured worker to return to the job. But recognize that if a vehicle accident occurs to or from work and your employee is further injured, that may become part of the workers' compensation claim. Please use safe and reliable transportation if offering to transport the injured worker to your workplace.

4. What if my injured worker was earning a higher salary in their regular job than the transitional duty job pays? (Ex. skilled craftsman's salary vs. a mailroom clerk's salary) The injured worker would be entitled to Temporary Partial Disability benefits from Chesapeake Employers. Temporary Partial Disability is paid at one-half of the difference between the injured worker's average weekly wage and the wage paid by the employer during modified duty.

Example 1:
Average Weekly Wage of $600
(Temporary Total Disability benefit would be $400 per week)

If Injured Worker returns to work 40 hours per week on modified duty and only earns $400 per week due to difference in position, the Temporary Partial Disability benefit would be $100. One-half of the $200 difference.

$600.00 Average Weekly Wage
-400.00 Wages paid for the light duty job
200.00

One-half of $200 ($100) is payable to the injured worker as Temporary Partial Disability. The take home pay would be $500 less taxes on the $400 that is paid as wages.

5. What if my injured worker can only work a ½ day of transitional duty?
Temporary Partial Disability benefits would be provided by Chesapeake Employers.

Example 2:
Average Weekly Wage of $750
(Temporary Total Disability benefit would be $500)

If the injured worker returns to work 20 hours per week on modified duty and only earns $375 per week (20 hours at his normal rate), the Temporary Partial Disability benefit would be $187.50.

$750.00 Average Weekly Wage
-375.00 Wages paid
375.00

One half of $375 (187.50) is payable to the injured worker as Temporary Partial Disability. The employer would need to report the modified duty wages to the adjuster weekly so that the proper amount would be processed by Chesapeake Employers.

6. Is it a good idea to promote the availability of transitional duty to all employees? Yes. If your employees see that you take return-to-work seriously and offer meaningful and productive work to all injured workers, they will not feel like they have been singled out or made the exception. Detail your return-to-work program as part of your employee orientation training. Make return-to-work a part of your company's culture.

Return-to-work program - Benefits to the employer

· Reduces the likelihood of malingering/exaggerated or potentially fraudulent claims
· Saves indemnity (lost time) expenses in temporary disability payments
· Receives some production for wages paid (When a worker is out collecting lost time benefits there is no production derived.)
· Saves the costs of overtime, hiring and training replacement employees
· Facilitates employer/employee contact, giving the employer more control and direction, leading to a more positive resolution to the claim
· May speed healing, saving medical expenses from a prolonged disability.

Benefits to the employees

Increases their self-esteem, minimizing feelings of guilt for having been injured
· Promotes better morale among all employees
· Contributes to faster recovery by keeping the injured worker mentally and physically conditioned to the regular work schedule
· Maintains social contact with fellow employees, which enhances recovery and encourages a faster return to the job
· Reduces the negative financial impact many injured workers experience due to lost time

Win-Win for everyone

· The employer wins by minimizing workers' compensation insurance costs while retaining the use of valuable trained employees.
· The employee wins by returning to work and avoiding the negative effects of a long-term   absence.

Important Reminder:

Treat all your injured workers who are on a transitional duty job assignment with respect and care. Never make a return-to-work job demeaning or meaningless.

Need help with building a return-to-work program?"

Please contact Chesapeake Employers Loss Control department or your Chesapeake Employers Claims Adjuster at
1-800-264-4943.

 


 

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