Benefits of Early Return to Work (ERTW) Program

The longer an injured employee that is off work the more the claim will cost your company.  Since claims directly impact your bottom line, it's important to implement an ERTW program.  Currently 55% of employers do not have a ERTW program.  For the companies that do, they can decrease lost-time claims by 73%.  ERTW programs wil allow injured workers to work to return to full time or part time work before they are fully released to work.  Usually the physician will give restrictions for the employee that the company can work with to customize their duties.  They could work in the same position but not perform all duties or work in an transitional position within the company.  Most all employees can at least sit at a desk and do simple tasks.  Remember, it's beneficial to your company to offer this program as well as beneficial to the employee.

 Benefits of an ERTW Program:
• Lowers workers compensation costs
• Decreases employee time away from work
• Reduces turnover
• Strengthens employee relations
• Boosts employee morale
• Improves overall productivity
• Improves company image

To implement an ERTW program.   You should work with your insurance company, medical providers, Nurse case mangers, and your employee and set it up in advance of having a claim. 

 ERTW Elements

  • Write a policy statement in non-contractual terms.
  • Assign someone to run the program.
  • Publicize the policy to all employees and
  • at new employee orientation.
    Review work assignments to see which might be transitional duty possibilities. (Further review may be necessary at the time you receive a restricted work release from the doctor.)
  • Determine acceptable wage levels for transitional duty assignments.
  • Contact your medical providers to let them know ERTW is available at your company whenever possible. Contacting the providers as you set up your program will help you to set up a relationship with the providers and complete any paperwork to help the providers meet their requirements.  You should also remind them during each new claim and provide them with a Job Description that details current physical requirements along with requirements of transitional posistions available.
  • Follow up daily with the recovering employee to help determine readiness for transitional duty or full return to work.
  • Keep records to track all efforts and contacts with and on behalf of the recovering employee.
  • Review your program with your legal counsel to help ensure compliance with applicable laws.
  • Employers utilizing a ERTW return can speed recovery of injured workers as much as 3X companies that do not have a plan.  With all this in mind, why would you not implement such a plan?


    Chris Moxley

    Chris began his career at a Norman insurance agency in 1988 serving as a Branch Manager for 3 years. He joined Professional Insurors in 1995 as a Producer and became Vice-President in 2004, where he overseas human resources and agency operations & technology as well as continuing to manage his client accounts and grow the business. The Agency works with a variety of accounts and Chris specializes in Workers Compensation Risk Management and Insurance. He has worked in Insurance for over 20 years and besides Workers Compensation he has specialized training and experience in the fields of Construction Risk Management and Risk Transfer, Property Management, & Manufacturing.