As an employer, does your organization have departments with tasks or duties that never seem to get done? If you are like many employers in Ohio, the answer to this question is yes.
One possible solution to create a win-win scenario for both your organization and your injured workers is to consider implementing a transitional work program with the assistance of grants offered by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). Transitional work is a cost containment strategy for workers’ compensation that helps injured workers return to productivity in the workplace by providing modified job duties that accommodate their medical restrictions due to work-related injuries. In turn, the employer reduces the costs associated with long-term claims and improves overall company productivity.
“Implementing a transitional work program is an ideal way to keep injured workers engaged in their employment and assist them with their income stream,” says Randy Jones, senior vice president, TPA Operations for CompManagement, Inc. “But it also offers the employer an alternative to downtime, the retention of knowledgeable and experience employees, and lower premium costs by preventing a loss in wages and payment of compensation by BWC.”
Smart Business spoke with Jones about the monies that are now available for your business in Ohio.
Who is eligible to receive a grant?
All active employers, both public and private, participating in the state-funded workers’ compensation program are eligible for the grant. Self-insured employers and state agencies are not eligible.
An employer must also be current with respect to all payments due to the BWC and have no cumulative lapses in coverage in excess of 40 days within the 12 months preceding the application date. Employers that received a transitional work grant through the BWC’s prior program from 2001 to 2006 will not be eligible for a new grant but will be eligible for a performance bonus. Employers that may have an existing transitional work program without use of a prior grant are also eligible only for a performance bonus after their current program is reviewed and approved by BWC.
Why should my organization apply for this grant and implement a transitional work program?
A transitional work program provides an alternative to lost time and allows an employer to minimize workers’ compensation disability costs associated with lost work days, compensation, and reserves. Often with minor modification in job duties or hours, an employee is able to return to work following an injury. The idea is to return an injured employee to gainful employment activities as soon as possible to avoid the so-called ‘disability trap.’
Injured workers receive a full paycheck, with the goal of returning to their original job. The advantages include a reduction in costs associated with long-term claims, improved productivity, lower injury downtime, improved employee recovery time, increases in employee morale and a protection of your work force investment, as the loss of experienced employees will result in costs associated with hiring new employees.
How is the amount of the grant determined?
BWC determines the amount of the grant based on employer size and the complexity of services needed for transitional work. Factors include the employer’s payroll, job classifications, job analyses needed and collective bargaining units.
How does the application for grant monies work?
Applications are received and reviewed by BWC. The application form is available on its website at www.ohiobwc.com. Key components will include policies and procedures, job analyses, program evaluation criteria, medical provider listing and employee education.
Who can develop a transitional work program for my organization?
Transitional work developers certified to participate in the Health Partnership Program as a vocational rehabilitation case manager, occupational therapist or a physical therapist can assist your organization. Your developer of choice must also complete BWC-sponsored transitional work development training prior to delivering programs and have verified experience in developing programs or verified mentoring experience according to BWC’s transitional work policy.
Any costs associated with a transitional work developer preparing and submitting a proposal to an employer are not reimbursable under the grant.
Can my organization receive additional monies for participation?
A separate application may be filed to receive a performance bonus of up to 10 percent. The calculation occurs at six months following the end of the applicable policy year (June 30 for private employers, Dec. 31 for public) and is dependent on the number of eligible claims and successful use of the program.
All claims with injury dates within the applicable policy year will be evaluated to determine how many had the potential for transitional work services and how many of those actually utilized those services. Say an employer had 12 claims during the policy year and 10 met the requirements for transitional work. Of those 10, five injured workers were offered and accepted transitional work services. Because 50 percent of eligible claims were helped by transitional work, the employer would receive 50 percent of the possible 10 percent bonus, which equals 5 percent.
Are there deadlines for applying for the grant?
There is no deadline for applying for the grant, but there is for the performance bonus. For private employers the deadline is the last business day of April; for public employers it is the last business day of October.
Randy Jones is the senior vice president of TPA Operations for CompManagement, Inc. Reach him at (800) 825-6755, ext. 65466, or Randy.Jones@sedgwickcms.com.
Insights Workers’ Compensation is brought to you by CompManagement, Inc.