RTW Case Study: Accommodation Strategies

Tasha Patterson@Work


The Early Employer Gets the Worm

RTW ProgramBy Dr. Michael Lacroix

Associate Medical Director
Aetna Disability

Here’s an updated proverb for integrated absence management (IAM) professionals: The early employer gets the “worm” of return to work (RTW) as soon as medically advisable.

We know that the longer disabled or injured employees stay off the job, the less likely they are to ever return. Time is of the essence after a disability event. As an employer, you want them back. You have invested to hire and train them. You are paying others to cover their duties while they’re away, and losing these employees permanently means more hiring and training. But now that the insurer or the third-party administrator (TPA) is managing the case, what can you do?

Absent does not mean gone. While away, they’re still your employees. Sometimes employers think that calling a disabled employee crosses some legal line. Hounding a disabled or injured employee about RTW definitely would. But calling to ask how they’re doing and if they would like to come to Joan’s birthday party would not cross any line. It would be nice.

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