Workplace injuries are an increasingly expensive cost of doing business. While every business does their best to avoid these injuries, even the most prepared employers must deal with them on occasion. The costs associated with these injuries—increased worker’s compensation premiums, decreased productivity, hiring temporary employees, and the loss of experienced workers—can be mitigated by shrewd employers taking full advantage of available assistance programs.
One such program, the Washington Stay At Work Program, is open to employers who pay workers compensation premiums to the Department of Labor and Industries. The program allows eligible employers to be reimbursed for wages and training needed to let injured workers remain on the job. The program allows employees injured on the job to return to work and perform “light duty” tasks. These tasks may include the employee’s normal duties performed at reduced hours, or a combination of lighter tasks that accommodate the employee’s injury-related work restrictions. Light duty work will vary according to each employee’s injury and work limitations. The injured employee’s attending physician must give written approval to any light duty or modified work before L&I will reimburse an employer for wages.
Employers may receive reimbursement for up to 50% of an employee’s wages while they perform light duty work. Reimbursement is also available for specialized training, tools, or clothing required to adapt to the injured employee’s work restrictions. Reimbursement is capped at $10,000 for wages, $2,500 for tools, $1,000 for training materials, and $400 for clothing per claim.
Applications for reimbursement may be made up to one year from the date the employee performed the light duty work. To ensure timely reimbursement, applications should include a signed release from the employee’s physician approving the employee for performance of the modified job description.
Not only are employers given partial wage reimbursement under the program, it may allow employers to protect against increases in workers compensation insurance caused by workplace injuries. While many employers may already have back to work programs in place, taking full advantage of available reimbursements can help further reduce costs and provide assistance to injured employees.
Visit www.Lni.wa.gov/StayAtWork to download an application for the Stay At Work Program and to learn more about the program requirements.
Comment: Though the costs associated with on-the-job injuries may be daunting, under the Stay At Work Program, not only do employers receive partial reimbursement for some of their costs, they receive the added benefit of keeping an experienced employee on the jobsite.