Workers' Compensation

Returning to Work after an Injury or Illness

Early return to work results in many benefits for the injured or ill employee, including the prevention of de-conditioning and the psychological sequels of prolonged time off work. Employers also realized benefits through substantial reductions in disability payments, medical treatment costs, and absence from work, insurance premiums, and overall Workers ’ Compensation costs.

Benefits to employees who return to work early

Prevention of wage loss: Workers' Compensation benefits replace only part of the employee's wages. Further, there is usually a 3-day waiting period before industrial disability or temporary disability payments begin. The sooner an employee returns to work, the sooner her or his income will return to its pre-injury level.

Faster recuperation: Soft-tissue injures are one of the major sources of Workers' Compensation claims. Current medical counsel dictates that only a limited amount of rest is necessary and that anything more can, in fact, be debilitating because muscles will begin to atrophy.

Positive social reintegration: Being away from work for too long a period is alienating, leaving the injured employee feeling out of the loop and forgotten by co-workers.

Avoidance of "disability syndrome": Being disabled can become a vicious cycle, a self-fulfilling downward spiral. The longer an employee stays out of the workplace, the more that employee is likely to perceive him or herself as disabled and the more difficult it becomes to re-establish the more rigorous discipline of being in the workplace eight hours a day.

Improved self-worth: Most of us receive some satisfaction from our jobs, a sense of contributing our skills and abilities to the whole. That feeling is lost the longer an employee stays off work.

Benefits to departments when employees return to work early

Increased efficiency as staff resume pre-injury or illness work assignments.

Increased moral as staffing levels return to pre-injury/illness levels.

Increased effectiveness as staff resumes assignments for which they have developed expertise.

Released to work with no restrictions

If the employee is released to return to work without restrictions, the employee must obtain from the treating physician, a written release to return to full duty and give the release to his/her manager or supervisor upon returning to work. The manager or supervisor should fax a copy of the release to the Human Resources Management department at (310) 516-3595.

Released to modified or light duty

If the physician releases the employee to "modified" or "light" duty work, the employee's supervisor and the Workers' Compensation Program Manager will review the work restrictions and determine if temporary modified or alternate work is available to assist in transitioning the employee back to their full job duties.

If a temporary transitional assignment is feasible, the employee's supervisor and/or the Workers' Compensation Program Manager will meet with the employee to review the transitional assignment and the work restrictions prescribed by the physician. The temporary assignment will be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure that the employee is continuing to improve. Changes will be made as appropriate. Temporary transitional assignments are temporary and not designed to become permanent.

If a temporary transitional assignment is not available, the Workers' Compensation Program Manager will contact the employee to discuss the available benefit options. The employee's supervisor should not allow the employee to return to work without a written release.