Many business owners think that it is better to have someone out on worker’s comp than to pay them for a lesser job. After all, worker’s comp will pay for them to be out. The reality is that it costs at least twice as much to put in a worker’s comp case based on the large premium increase that losses cause.
It is far better to bring someone back to work, in almost any capacity, than to have them out collecting worker’s comp. In almost all cases it is better for the employee and the employer if the employee continues working. This seems counterintuitive to many business owners so let’s look at what an injured employee can do and what that means for your worker’s comp costs.
Let’s say, for example, an employee who does manual labor is injured on the job. This person may need to work a desk job until they are cleared to resume more physically demanding work. This person may not be doing as valuable work as they were before but this is still cheaper than the rate increase you’d see on your worker’s comp insurance. Remember, losses stay with your experience for 3 years so losses are not a one-time thing.
Every employer should create a job bank of different roles people could perform while adjusting back to their previous job. Think about ways to do things that are less physically demanding or less stressful. Studies show that once people are engaged, they are more likely going to try to be more and more useful on the job. There is no evidence that people will try to stay doing the less demanding job as long as possible. In fact, just the opposite is true.
In the case of temporary injuries, the employee will not make as much money while being out on worker’s comp as they would if they continued to work. For this reason, as well as many others, your employee will want to resume work as soon as they possibly can.
Getting your employee back to work should be treated as part of your wellness program. You are providing an opportunity for them to continue getting full pay and benefits a short time after injury. You recognize the need to recover and are sensitive to your employee working their way back to normal workloads in a respectful way.
You can get employee buy-in by letting them help you design different jobs in your job pool. Let them understand that this allows workers to keep full pay and benefits while being sensitive to their injury and their need to work their way back to their normal position.
Remember, in most cases, it costs an employer at least 200% of their workers’ comp costs through lost wage payments. A good return to work (or stay at work) program will be a great incentive to get employees back to work quickly and help create a positive attitude.