Return to Work

Managing Performance Issues for Light-duty Workers

We know that providing return-to-work (RTW) options help claims close faster and maintain control of your workers’ comp program. The benefits on your bottom line are well worth the process of identifying appropriate work, obtaining physician approval, and getting buy-in from supervisors. 

There are times, though, when an employee will have performance issues while on light duty, and that undue stress could shadow the benefits of RTW. For example, what if an employee consistently shows up to work late, causes problems with other employees, or defies your job site rules? Should you continue to manage this situation, or should you let the worker go?

To help you answer this question, consider some potentially unwanted effects. Do you want your premiums to increase in the future? Do you want to lose control of an already difficult claim? Do you want to reward an employee with L&I benefits? If you answered no to any of these questions, then do not move too quickly to terminate a difficult worker.

First, call your ERNwest claims manager to help you understand the cost and consequences of termination and to help assure that you have all the proper claim documentation in place to avoid time-loss benefits. Secondly, pull out your employee handbook. Injured employees are subject to the same rules and policies as all other employees. You do not have to wear “kid gloves” when you manage a worker on light duty; however, you need to apply your policies consistently between injured and uninjured employees.

If you have a complex claim situation or are dealing with difficult performance issues, call your claims or group manager right away so they can guide you through best practices for your company and help you save costs and alleviate stress.

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