HR Management & Compliance

Revamp Your Return-To-Work Program

Yesterday, we reviewed the benefits of returning injured workers back to the job as quickly as possible. Today we look at one company’s innovative RTW strategy and invite you to a California-specific webinar next week that will show you how your RTW program can boost retention, reduce costs, and avoid lawsuits.

Intracorp, a subsidiary of Cigna, provides case management and workers’ comp services (not actual coverage). In a recent interview with BLR (CER’s parent company), Tammy Bradly, director of case and RTW project management, says Intracorp helps clients plan for an employee’s return to the job before an injury even occurs.

“We plan with employers to help them put their program together before day one. On the first day short-term disability or a comp claim is filed, we have a contingency plan for RTW,” she explains.

According to Bradly, the first step in building such a proactive program is to review what’s already in place, including current RTW and absence policies. “We interview different people on the staff, sometimes down to the employee level and in various levels of management. We want to know who the decision makers are and what type of RTW philosophy and procedures they have.”

The process also includes an analysis of claims data to learn, among other things, which positions have the highest incidence of absence. Jobs found to be linked to absence are further studied, including for transitional-work alternatives. These are the alternative positions/tasks an injured worker can perform before regaining a permanent position.

Once the information is compiled, Intracorp writes a plan that outlines recommendations and opportunities for improvement. Also included is a communication plan for ensuring that employees understand the policies and procedures and what’s expected of them.


Need to know more about safe and legal return-to-work programs? Attend our in-depth, California-specific webinar next week. Can’t attend? Preorder the CD. Your satisfaction is guaranteed.


Among suggestions for employers, Bradly offers:

  • Limit a transition program to avoid a “black hole” from which a worker never emerges. Some employers set 90 days as the limit for transitional work.
  • Ask a physician as soon as possible for a prognosis for an employee’s eventual return to full employment.
  • Develop RTW policies and procedures that are consistent among sites. “If employees see that everyone’s treated the same, they respond much more positively to the program.”
  • Consider an integrated approach in which workers’ compensation (job-related) and disability (non-work-related) cases are handled together. “Absence is absence, so it’s smart to be consistent across the board.”
  • Establish an early-intervention program that involves clinical personnel, such as RNs and doctors. Intracorp provides its clients with RTW specialists who begin talking to injured employees early in the process, sometimes by phone and sometimes in person.
  • If transitional work is not available, consider placing employees in local not-for-profit organizations (such as United Way) while they heal. Provide vacations and benefits during this period.

Bradly and other experts know that the longer an injured worker stays out of work, the less likely he or she is to return—and the more likely your company will get slapped with a lawsuit. Not only are you dealing with the expense and hassle of replacing that worker, but you’re also looking at increased workers’ comp costs.

A strong RTW program is your best defense. But where to start?

California Return-to-Work Programs: The Steps to Get Injured Employees Back on the Job Safely and Seamlessly

Webinar coming Tuesday, November 18, 2014,

10:30 a.m. to Noon Pacific

There are a number of ways to effectively deal with employee injuries, Cal/OSHA recordkeeping requirements, and workers’ compensation (WC) costs. One of the more successful is to implement a comprehensive RTW program.

Companies that have RTW programs in place can reduce WC costs, including temporary disability, medical, rehabilitation, and retraining, and they’re in a better position to get employees back to their assigned position more quickly.

According to the latest data from the Workers’ Compensation Rating Bureau, 42 percent of all money paid for disability under the California workers’ compensation system is for temporary disability, almost all of which could be saved by a RTW program!

Setting up an effective RTW program requires a level of effort and commitment, and if done correctly, it will yield positive results to your company’s bottom line.

Despite this fact, many companies do not have a program in place for various reasons—“it’s too difficult,” “it will send the wrong message to employees,” “it will be abused by both employees and supervisors,” “it is too difficult to manage and track,” “it didn’t work in the past”—all of these reasons are outweighed by the tremendous benefit of having a seamless RTW program in place.

Join us on November 18 when our presenter, a seasoned safety professional and practicing safety lawyer who has helped many companies develop and implement success RTW programs, will outline the tested process to follow for success.

You and your colleagues will learn:

    • Cal/OSHA recordkeeping tips, including the important

California-specific RTW requirements

  • The relationship of RTW to WC, the Americans with Disabilities Act, family and medical leave, and OSHA—as well as other laws—and how to manage compliance requirements under them all
  • The benefits of a comprehensive RTW program
  • How to evaluate your existing RTW program to tell if it’s in need of an overhaul
  • Best practices on how to build and manage a successful RTW program, including how to prepare the RTW policy and the key elements to include in the program
  • How to generate the commitment from senior management for your RTW program
  • Who to involve in developing and implementing your RTW program including safety, medical (in-house and outsourced), legal, human resources, production, and maintenance
  • Successful ways for working closely with your medical providers and treating physician
  • How to best document the requirements for permanent and transitional jobs using clear and useful job descriptions to better work with medical staff
  • How to ensure that supervisors understand and follow the RTW process, including complying with medical limitations
  • How to prepare successful and practical “individual return-to-work plans”
  • How to address employee and union concerns that may occur
  • Strategies for finding and evaluating outside resources to help you in developing and implementing your RTW program

Don’t miss it—sign up today, and claim your spot! Can’t make it on the 18th? Order the CD, and learn on your own schedule.

Download your copy of Training Your New Supervisors: 11 Practical Lessons today!