Your employee has a work-related injury and is restricted from performing some of the functions of her regular job. What do you do? As the employer, how do you best position yourself for a relatively easy, fast, and successful workers’ compensation claim and return to work?
Successful management of work-related claims starts with a good foundation of employer policies and practices. Work with your workers’ compensation insurer to develop solid claims management practices, from prompt reporting of the injury to initial medical treatment with one of four designated providers to continued communication with the employee, insurer, and medical provider.
Make sure you also consider your obligations under applicable employment laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. For your employees active in claims management, provide clear, written guidelines for the steps, procedures, and considerations involved in managing each claim.
Communication should be a top priority in your claims management, starting with communication with the injured employee. Let your employee know that you are concerned about her well-being and recovery. Check in periodically to see how she is doing and if she has questions. The injured worker should understand both the process and any expectations you have as an employer, such as communicating medical information and restrictions after doctor’s visits, returning to modified duty, etc.
As an employer, you should also be communicating with your workers’ compensation insurer and the medical providers to fully understand the claim and get any questions you have answered.
Return to Work
Injured workers who miss more than six months of work have about a 50 percent chance of returning to work. That figure drops to only 25 percent for workers out for more than a year. So it’s in your best interest as an employer to develop a return-to-work program to get your employees back on modified duty as soon as possible.
Getting employees back to work helps them feel more engaged and productive, helps them recover physically, and makes them less likely to be at home watching TV ads imploring them to retain an attorney. Identify modified job duties that might work, have the doctor sign off on the job description, and provide a modified duty job offer to employees to re-engage them in the workforce.
Not all workers’ compensation claims will go smoothly, even following these steps, but you will be better-positioned to have happy, productive employees if you take some time to consider and develop your claim-handling process. Contact MSEC at 800.884.1328 for more information.