Filed Under:Markets, Workers Compensation

Return-to-work and local nonprofits: A winning combination

Injured employees may be able to help local nonprofits if employers don't have temporary light-duty positions as they ease their way back to work. (Photo: iStock)
Injured employees may be able to help local nonprofits if employers don't have temporary light-duty positions as they ease their way back to work. (Photo: iStock)

As a successful workers’ compensation agent or broker, you know the value of return to work (RTW) programs in better managing the total cost of workplace injuries for your clients, and the benefits they provide injured workers.

But what can you do for clients who can’t bring some, or all, injured employees back on temporary light duty? 

Quite a bit. In fact, these companies can get all the benefits of RTW, provided you and your clients partner with a TPA or insurer with a network of local nonprofit organizations and volunteer sites that welcome the talents of injured workers while providing meaningful temporary transitional employment opportunities through a formal Temporary Transitional Employment (TTE) program.

And those benefits are significant. Workers’ compensation claimants placed at TTE by Liberty Mutual or its Helmsman Management Services third-party administrator retuned to work on average 67 days sooner than those who were not placed in such positions or who returned to light duty at their employers.

As an added benefit, if the injured worker is placed at a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the employer may qualify for a charitable deduction, depending on its tax situation.

Best practices for a successful TTE program

Here are the best practices of this approach:

  • Work with an insurer or TPA that has a national network of pre-qualified nonprofit organizations and volunteer sites.
  • Have a formal TTE program as part of the workers’ compensation insurance or TPA service agreement.
  • Include the TTE in all communications to employees on the employer’s RTW program and expectations.
  • As workers’ compensation claims are filed, the insurer or TPA should identify those individuals who work for employers with TTE programs.
  • The TPA or insurer should review the TTE program with the claimant.
  • The TPA or insurer should place an injured worker in a local nonprofit requiring a commute of less than 30 miles or 15 minutes.
  • The specific position should reflect the injured worker’s abilities, physical capabilities and medical restrictions.
  • That placement should happen after the injured worker receives a pre-Medical Maximum Improvement modified duty release and restrictions that are expected to last for a least four weeks, and usually with 24-hours of receiving the injured employee’s wage information from the employer.
  • TTE is no different than returning an employee to onsite light duty.
  • Injured workers participating in the TTE are still employees of the company and expected to abide by all employer policies.
  • The TPA or insurer monitors and verifies the hours worked each week, and checks in with the injured worker and local nonprofit to identify and discuss any performance issues.
  • The TPA or insurer continues to manage the claim and informs the treating physician of the injured worker’s participation in the TTE program.
  • The TTE program ends as the injured employee is given a full-duty release, reaches Maximum Medical Improvement, or restrictions improve enough for the employer to accommodate onsite.  

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