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.
· 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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.