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Hawaii - Return to Work Note

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  • Hawaii - Return to Work Note

    Maybe I'm just dumb today, but I'm having trouble noodling through this. We have an employee who went out on W/C w/r/t a repetitive motion injury in September 2007. She applied for and recieved STD benefits, which have run up. She did not opt for LTD. She has presented us with a "return to work" note that says she really can't do anything (can't use her upper arms, and her job would cleary require that). My sense is that we can go ahead and fill her position, but wanted to confirm. Thanks, as always.

  • #2
    You made a mistake and are about to make it worse. There is probably no legal problem to replacing this person, but, financially, the company would have been a lot better off if this person was on some sort of light duty from Day One after the injury.

    Every single workers comp injury that results in costs incurred, either medical, indemnity or other, costs the employer in the long run. Indemnity claims of the same dollar value as a medical only claim increase the mod more than a medical only claim and result in higher WC premiums for the next three years. Accordingly, it is best to avoid having any employee have lost time. It is not always possible to do so, but if the employee has any work capacity, keep them at work!

    The WC carrier will not care what happens with this employee unless the indemnity and medical payments are likely to go beyond three years. After three years, they get to eat the costs and not be able to tag your company for them in the form of increased mod and premiums.

    Talk with the carrier about what you have in mind. Consider what you can do to keep the employee working. Have your broker provide you some examples of "what ifs" as far as your costs go over the next three years -- you term the person and continue to pay indemnity, you put the person to work in a less than fully productive position, you get the person back to work at full capacity.
    Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

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    • #3
      I could not agree with ScottB more. If you are in a fully insured program, your TD payments are going to cause your experience modification (x-mod) to go up. You won't see it for at least a year, but once you do, it will be painful! Your premiums will be based on this x-mod for 3 years.

      Can you get a second opinion? If so, pursue that option. Is her condition temporary or permanent?

      Your next step must be the interactive process governed by ADA. Can you get voice recognition software for the employee? Can you redirect her work activities to comply with her restrictions? Are there any other positions in your organization which are open that she may qualify for?

      You should talk with your comp carrier on the permanency of her medical condition and ongoing claim costs. However, they will not be able to guide you on the interactive process. Do yourself and your company a favor; research the process and follow the guidelines.

      http://www.jan.wvu.edu/Erguide/

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      • #4
        Agree with the RTW stuff completely. However, you have a bigger problem. Has this been covered by WC or just your private STD plan? If not WC, why not?
        I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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        • #5
          Thanks. I've been getting information on this matter in bits an pieces. I'm not much of a workers comp maven, to be kind.

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