Return-to-work Program Benefits

It's vital law firms implement return-to-work programs.

Return-to-work Program Benefits

Benefits of an effective early return-to-work program accrue to both a law firm and its injured employees. The law firm realizes significant cost savings by minimizing lost productivity, resource replacement costs, workers’ compensation indemnity benefits, and medical treatment costs. The employee benefits from reduced stress and a feeling that their employer cares for their physical health and values what they bring to the workplace.

Chief components of effective early return-to-work programs

The most effective return-to-work programs contain the following components or employ the following best practices:

  • Executive mandates are issued to departments, requiring that they temporarily accommodate injured workers by physical restrictions determined by a physician.
  • Dedicated return-to-work providers are responsible for coordinating early return-to-work among the treating medical providers, injured workers, department managers, and the third-party claims administrator.
  • Medical providers and third-party claims administrators must also be held accountable for their efforts to assure the program’s success.
  • The workers’ compensation manager, perhaps with the assistance of the third-party claims administrator, conducts education sessions and meetings to train department managers in the importance of early return-to-work.
  • Medical providers are required upon the completion of the first office visit and each subsequent office visit to convey physical work restrictions to the return-to-work coordinator (sometimes via the third party administrator) for accommodation or modification of a prior accommodation.
  • Modified duty is accommodated for a limit of either 60 or 90 days, subject to possible extension if the medical provider and law firm believe that the employee continues to improve physically.
  • As modified positions are identified, a bank of a modified job description.
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