Untangling the ADA, FMLA, WC Web: Aligning Workers’ Comp & Disability RTW

DMEC Staff@Work

Best Practice #3: To Align or Not to Align Workers’ Compensation and Disability RTW

Aligning Workers' Comp & Disability RTWBy Matthew Bahl, JD

Director, Health & Productivity Analytics
Prudential Group Insurance

By Kristin Tugman, PhD

VP Health & Productivity Analytics
Prudential Group Insurance

It is no secret that employers with return-to-work (RTW) programs tend to experience shorter claim durations and lower disability related costs.

As employers continue to explore and implement RTW programs they often wrestle with a key question: should they apply the same RTW rules for their workers’ compensation (WC) and disability programs? This question has gained importance as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) advocated in recent years what appears to be a “parity” position: an employer that offers an RTW program for WC cannot exclude non-occupational (non-occ) claims.

A recent study from the Integrated Benefits Institute found that employers that manage non-occ and WC claims in the same department and apply the same RTW rules to both types of claims have shorter durations than those that do not.1 This study, however, focused primarily on the durations impact of aligning a company’s non-occ and WC programs. Before making the decision to align the two programs, employers should consider issues related to compliance and health and productivity.

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