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What is Return-to-Work?

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Return-to-Work is a proactive approach, endorsed by many health care providers, designed to help restore injured workers to their former lifestyle in the safest and most effective manner possible. A partnership among workers, union representatives, employers, and health care providers stakeholders is developed in a collaborative effort to return the injured worker back to his or her pre-injury status.

Return-to-Work management is the simultaneous coordination of health care services, vocational rehabilitation, and claims development in a caring and cost-effective manner according to the worker’s needs. A major benefit for both the injured worker and employer is the Return-to-Work focus on an earlier return to maximum work capacity than would be possible using a non-specialized treatment plan. A cooperatively developed Return-to-Work program assists the worker’s recovery by making return to work part of the rehabilitation process. The development, implementation, and maintenance of your company’s Return-to-Work program will also strengthen the workplace community through continued communication and one shared goal: the safe return to work of the injured worker.

As all the stakeholders fulfill their responsibilities, Return-to-Work programs can realize their full potential to:

  • Reduce the financial burden on employers, on workers, and on the families of workers;

  • Reduce the negative effects on workers by reducing the length of time off work;

  • Allow unions to continue to protect the employment rights of their members;

  • Allow the health care provider to develop more specialized treatment plans; and

  • Provide support for the primary care provider in the return to work decision.

The Return-to-Work process restores a worker to the workplace as part of his or her recovery program. This maximizes treatments and minimizes long-term workers’ compensation costs. The worker experiences quicker recovery and restoration of his or her lifestyle, and the employer experiences a better-managed compensation system.

The most important element in the creation of a Return-to-Work program is commitment. By consistently applying the procedures you’ve developed to each job-related injury or illness, you will be well on you way to saving money on your workers’ compensation insurance costs.