The Southwest Washington Workers’ Compensation Trust Executive Committee recognizes the importance of encouraging member districts to return injured employees to transitional duty job assignments while they recover from a work-related injury. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that workers absent for more than six (6) months due to a work-related injury have approximately a 50% probability of returning to work of any kind and those absent for more than a year a less than a 25% chance. Those workers absent for more than two (2) years have virtually no chance of returning to work of any kind (US Department of Labor, Industry Injury & Illness Data 2002).
While many member districts return their injured employees to transitional duty job assignments, there are additional opportunities that could be taken advantage of to help reduce workers’ compensation expenses for all member districts. The most common reason given by districts for not returning their injured employees to transitional work is due to a lack of funds to pay for both the injured employee and the substitute. To offset this concern as well as the impact time away from work has on injured employees, the Trust Executive Committee approved a Workers’ Compensation Return-to-Work Reimbursement Program, effective September 1, 2014.
The Workers’ Compensation Trust Executive Committee designated funds for a Return-to-Work Reimbursement Program designated specifically to partially reimburse wages paid to injured employees working transitional duty jobs. Reimbursements will be for 50% of the employee’s regular rate of pay for up to 90 calendar days, up to capping at $10,000 per claim. Reimbursement covers half of the salary only – benefits are not included. Districts will complete and submit a one-page reimbursement form with required documentation within 45 days of the transitional duty start date. The Workers’ Compensation Trust will reimburse the district for half of the qualifying wages.