Seeing the “Light” in Light Duty
Lost time associated with workers’ compensation claims is costly to companies, and studies have shown that employers who actively use a light duty work policy benefit financially by lowering the cost of workers’ compensation claims.
- The WI Department of Workforce Development states the benefits of a light duty programs include: “a lower rate of lost workday cases, a reduction in worker’s compensation claims incidence, and fewer lost workdays per 100 employees.” (1)
- Light duty programs have actually shown to improve employee’s self-worth. The US Department of Labor has documented that “return-to-work strategies and programs have traditionally been used to reduce workers’ compensation costs; however, they can do much more – they can improve productivity and morale across an organization, they can save organizations time and money and they can protect companies from loss of talent.” (2)
At VenSure, we understand the value of the light duty program, and we offer our clients a great option if they cannot provide light duty for their employees. We get many questions about VenSure’s light duty return to work program and Alternative Light Duty (ALD) program. Below are actual client questions, and answers from our in house expert, and Claims Supervisor, Gin Harper.
Can you explain what ‘light duty’ is?
Light duty is geared toward employees who have been injured in a work related accident and released to work by doctor under certain restrictions, however, are not able to return to their regular position.
What happens if a client company cannot provide light duty?
VenSure has an Alternative Light Duty (ALD) program that we offer to our clients. We work with an outside vendor that places claimants into a position that fits within the doctor’s restrictions when our clients cannot provide light duty. The ALD program works with local non-profits throughout the United States to place these claimants.
What if an employee says that they are unable to perform their light duty position?
If the employee fails to report on the scheduled start date or if they are unwilling to perform their light duty position, it will be considered a voluntary rejection of the light duty assignment and could jeopardize their workers’ compensation benefits as allowed by applicable workers’ compensation statutes.
What happens if an employee calls in saying they do not feel well and cannot work light duty?
If the employee calls off work because they are not feeling well, they will not be paid for the day.
What if an employee says they do not have a way to get to their light duty position?
We work closely with the light duty claimants. If they do not have transportation or if they have a no driving restriction, we will work with the employer and/or our ALD contact to locate a position that is accessible through public transportation.
What incentives do client companies have to get employees to return to work?
An employee working in a light duty position helps them to heal, both mentally and physically. The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation states on their website, “Insurance industry statistics indicate about 15 percent of workers’ comp claims fall prey to “disability syndrome – the failure to return to gainful employment when it is medically feasible.” (3) So, we are always trying to get employees back to work as soon as possible.
Can a client company terminate an employee for poor work performance while on light duty?
Yes. However, we recommend that client companies do not terminate the employee when they have an open case. When they are released to full duty, they can then proceed as they see fit. If a client company terminates someone who has an open workers’ compensation claim, often times the employee will continue to say they are hurt because now they do not have a job to go back to and still would like to collect a pay check. We do not ever like to see a claimant terminated, if avoidable.
What if an employee gets hurt while they are working a light duty position?
If it is an aggravation to the same injury, it will be added into the same claim. If it is a new body part, it will be considered a new claim. It can potentially be a covered claim, as the light duty claimant is still considered an employee of the client while working light duty at the non-profit, thus covered through their workers’ compensation coverage.
Is there an additional cost associated with a client company’s employee working in the Alternative Light Duty program?
Light duty is part of the claims process. We require all clients to have 100% participation in the program. There is no additional cost to provide light duty on the client’s part.
The VenSure Client Service Agreement says to provide light duty when reasonably available, but with certain types of business it’s not reasonably available. What happens in this case?
Each claim is handled on a case by case basis. There is usually some type of light duty that an injured worker can perform: filing, typing, answering phones, some type of marketing or even standing outside and holding a sign for the client company for advertising. If our clients need help trying to find a light duty position for the claimant, they can call us and we can brain storm to figure something out. Otherwise, the ALD program can be utilized.
What are some of the additional benefits of a light duty program?
The benefits of having a claimant work are:
- You can get them back in the workforce quicker by making them feel like they are a part of society verses sitting at home doing nothing and receiving Total Temporary Disability (TTD) checks.
- The statistics show employers who have used light duty programs have had success, “74 percent of employers who implemented accommodations rated them as either ‘very effective’ or ‘extremely effective.” (4)
The importance of having a job, and being able to provide cannot be overstated.
Implementing a light duty work policy has the ability to benefit all parties involved. The advantages of implementing some type of light duty program far outweigh any possible disadvantages.
For further information on light duty or our Alternative Light Duty program, please contact the Claims Department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call
Vensure Employer Services