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Importance of a Solid Return to Work Program

by | Aug 13, 2015 | Return to Work Programs, Workers' Compensation

The New York Workers’ Compensation Board has a clear message for New York employers: Return to Work (RTW) programs are the best way to manage costs and recovery after work-related injuries.

Companies big and small must pay attention to safety and the overall costs associated with workplace accidents to protect their workers and their bottom line.

While preventing accidents is the best way to reduce overall costs, the second best way to reduce employer costs is to have an effective workplace Return to Work (RTW) program in place.

According to the New York Workers’ Compensation Board, the longer that an injured worker is absent from the workplace, the higher the costs to the employer and their insurance carrier.

Employers incur additional costs from lost productivity, overtime, increased premiums, lower morale, and the costs of having to hire and train a new employee if they must replace the injured worker.


The state has found that early assistance helping injured employees return to work as soon as they are physically able is essential to a solid RTW program. The New York Workers’ Compensation Board reports that:

  • After a 6 month absence, there’s a 50% chance that the employee will return to work.
  • After a 1-year absence, there’s only a 25% chance that a worker will return.
  • After a 2-year absence, that declines to just 1%.

Employers must acknowledge that returning to work is a socially fragile process where co-workers and supervisors must be understanding about the worker’s new routines.

RTW planning is not about bringing an injured employee back to work before they’re ready, instead it must focus on matching the injured employee’s physical restrictions with the appropriate job accommodation.


The New York Workers’ Compensation Board stresses the importance of employers offering transitional work to injured or ill employees so they can return to work activities that are suitable for their functional capabilities.

Ways this can be accomplished include: 1) offering transitional work, 2) utilizing ergonomic worksite assessments, and 3) ensuring that all assignments are in compliance with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the state’s workers’ compensation laws.

Do you have questions about returning to work safely? Contact a New York City workers’ compensation lawyer from Katz, Leidman, Freund & Herman for a free consultation!