Providing Return-to-Work (RTW) to injured employees provides great benefits to both your employee and your business. However, you should follow a specific process to receive the most significant financial incentive and legal protections with your RTW program. The medical provider’s review of the offered work and the use of a formal job offer letter are best practices to ensure that any eligibility for further time-loss ends and that L&I approves your Stay at Work (SAW) reimbursements.
Medical Provider’s Review
A medical provider’s review can come in many forms but should be a written description of the tasks you will ask your injured employee to perform and the job’s basic physical requirements. Some common resources used for the medical provider’s review:
- Return to Work form (included in your incident reporting packet) provided by ERNwest
- Light Duty Job Description fillable form provided by L&I
- Formal Job Analysis
Common pitfall: An L&I Activity Prescription Form (APF) can help determine your worker’s capability, but by itself doesn’t meet L&I requirements for a modified-duty job offer. Use the APF to help draft your light duty job description and ensure you are offering physically appropriate work.
Helpful hint: Unsure how to draft a light-duty job description for medical review? Don’t worry. Your ERNwest Claim Manager is here to help. Contact them if you have any questions, and they can help walk you through this process.
Helpful hint: A medical review of the offered work is required to qualify for the L&I SAW reimbursement, earning you up to 50% back on the wages you pay while on modified duty.
Formal Job Offer Letter
While it may seem unnecessary, a formal job offer provides legal protection against further time loss. The job offer letter communicates to L&I and your employer that you have physically appropriate work available and the specifics of that work. The formal job offer letter must include:
- Job title
- Start date
- Work location
- Work schedule
Common pitfall: If you do not use a formal job offer letter and there is any dispute about the work offered, L&I may start paying time-loss benefits. Further, if you have an employee working light-duty and they stop showing up for work, or their employment with your company ends, L&I will start paying time-loss benefits if a formal offer letter isn’t in place.
Helpful hint: ERNwest has a job offer letter template that is very easy to use and satisfies L&I requirements. Simply fill in the blanks, and you’re ready to offer work. You can find a job offer letter template in your incident reporting packet or by contacting your ERNwest Claim Manager.
Helpful hint: Your job offer letter should include language that work is available on a “reasonably continuous” and not a “temporary” basis. This signals to L&I that you anticipate providing work as long as the worker is restricted and will prevent L&I from beginning costly and often unnecessary vocational services.
When you couple a medically approved job description with a formal written job offer letter, it provides your company with the best protection against time loss and ensures your eligibility for thousands of dollars in financial incentives. While it may seem burdensome at first, too often, when not used, we see claims incur needless expenses and employee-employer relationships forever damaged. The good news is that ERNwest has streamlined the process and is here to help. Please reach out to your ERNwest Claim Manager for the templated forms discussed and with any return-to-work questions you may have.