New Program Would Help Return to Work, Reduce Workers' Comp Costs

Date: February 24, 2021

Work-related accidents have negative, sometimes catastrophic consequences, for both the injured employee and the employer. The direct and indirect costs involved with a workplace accident can cost Tennessee business owners tens of thousands of dollars.

The state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) convened a task force of staff, employers, medical professionals, and insurance companies to collaborate and develop a program that could help businesses decrease the number of workdays lost to work-related injuries and illnesses while increasing the employee return-to-work rate. The collaboration resulted in the Returning Employees to Work And Reducing Disabilities (REWARD) program.

The purpose of the REWARD program is to shift the mindset about workers’ compensation by using work as a tool to speed recovery and to encourage employers to identify transitional job tasks they can offer injured employees during their recovery period. Following this program can help many injured workers return to their regular wages and pre-injury standard of living sooner and employers can save money on workers’ compensation claims.

REWARD provides employers with a toolkit that outlines the following steps needed to implement a program:

• Advice on actions to take before and after an injury occurs, for identifying transitional work assignments, and for assisting employees who are unable to return to work due to their work-related injury.

• Sample return-to-work and transitional job offer policies.

• Information to share with authorized treating physicians concerning the employer’s return-to-work program.

• A return-on-investment calculator to help employers predict their savings from implementing a return-to-work program.

• Information about the upcoming Certified Physician Program which will train, test, and certify physicians interested in utilizing best practices in the Tennessee workers’ compensation system.

• Information about the BWC Employer Honor Roll which will annually recognize employers who have outstanding return-to-work programs.

Employers can learn more about the BWC’s voluntary REWARD program by visiting the Bureau’s website.

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