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Return to Work

In July of 2017, there were changes to the Iowa Workers Compensation Code, specifically to the Return To Work (RTW) and the offer of Suitable Work. We are providing some information and sample policies to help with return to work.

Benefits of Return-to-Work Programs

Indemnity claims adversely affect the calculations for the experience modification factor (EMF) that can cause the workers’ compensation premiums to increase. If an employee is out of work for longer than six months, their chance of return to work is less than 50 percent. After one year, it drops to 25%, and after two years, the chance for this employee to return to work is 1%.

As the employer, you directly control these numbers by offering a Return-to-Work (RTW) program. RTW programs provide benefits to the employer as well as the employee. These benefits include the employer’s ability to manage the injured employee and their restrictions and retain and utilize institutional knowledge held by the injured employee. The employee keeps their benefit; they can retain financial security and stability and a productive outlook while rehabilitating more quickly than at home.

When the employer offers suitable work, it must be put in writing and include details related to lodging, meals, and transportation. It should also communicate to the employee that they will not be compensated with temporary partial, temporary total, or healing period benefits if they refuse the offer of temporary work. In addition, the employee must communicate the reason for the refusal in writing to the employer upon the time of refusal.

Return-To-Work Now

RTWNow is a website created by a vocational rehabilitation specialist that spent many years studying jobs, including public sector positions and the mechanics required to perform the jobs. IMWCA provides two of the different tools for our members to use. These tools do not share logins.

RTW Tools is an online database that offers two customizable, comprehensive databases. One is a database of Essential Job Functions (EJF) templates and the other is a database of Transitional Work Assignment (TWA) templates. The EJFs can assist members with creating and updating the physical demand section of job descriptions. They can also be utilized in conjunction with a post-offer, pre-employment physical or fit-for-duty evaluations. The TWAs can be used as suggestions for alternate/light duty assignments.

Tracker is a database that allows you to track and update your employees’ claims as they develop, utilizing data from your Company Nurse-reported claims. Using this tool, you can automatically create your Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 300 Log. To take advantage of this service, email lisaengland@iowaleague.org.

Work Status Report

The work status report is a form that employers can require their injured employees to provide to the treating medical provider and return to the injured worker to establish what if any modified duties the employee is able to perform in regards to their job and injury/illness.

What information does the Work Status Report provide?

The Work Status Report can include the following information:

1. Current Work Status for the injured employee.

2. The Physician’s Findings – Includes injured employee’s work restrictions.

3. When the injured work restrictions expire.

4. When the injured employee’s next appointment

Traditionally the work status report gets returned to an injured employee and sent to the insurance claims adjuster. Employers have the right to request a copy from the injured employee.

What should an employer use the Work Status Report for?

It is essential that employers use the work status report as a guide when offering, in writing, suitable temporary modified/light duty work.

RTWNow Resource Training Session

To learn more, view this 13-minute video of a recorded RTWNow resource training session. The session walks through the features of this service.

RTWNow Resource Training Session

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