Early Return to Work Program

The Early Return to Work program is a cabinet initiative, established in 2002, designed to assist employees injured on the job to return to work, performing duties consistent with any temporary limitations imposed by the treating physician.

This program will allow your agency to be directly involved in an injured employee's successful return to work and will aid their physician in monitoring the recovery progress more effectively.

Employees who are eligible for temporary modified duty will enter their agency's early return to work program and return to agency payroll. Therefore, time lost benefits will no longer be provided under worker compensation for employees eligible for the early to return to work program.

CARO Responsibilities:

  • CARO will maintain an injury report/file and direct medical care.
  • CARO will maintain communication with the authorized treating physician in returning the employee back to work in an effort to enhance the recovery of the injured worker.
  • Upon receiving proper documentation from the treating physician regarding temporary modified restrictions, CARO will notify the agency as to when temporary total or temporary partial disability will cease. The agency will be provided a copy of the treating physician’s orders for temporary modified restrictions.
  • CARO will continue to communicate with the physician toward a release to full duty or a release with permanent restrictions.
  • CARO will notify the agency when a release has been obtained.

Resources for Physicians:

Resources for State Agencies

Model Policy Statement Sample

In an effort to maintain the department’s skilled workforce and reduce workers’ compensation costs, the Department of _____________, hereby establishes an Early Return to Work program to enhance the recovery to employees who are injured or contract an occupational disease in the course and scope of state employment. Employees will be placed in temporary modified duty assignments, when feasible, during the course of the recovery to perform duties consistent with the temporary limitations.

Agency Responsibilities

  • Designate a departmental coordinator responsible for leading Early Return to Work Program within department.
  • Provide temporary modified duty that accommodates the physical limitations of employees who are recovering from a work-related injury or occupational disease.
  • Identify possible alternative modified work or other projects, prior to the need to utilize modified duty.
  • Communicate with the employee and supervisor their responsibilities regarding the program and ensure that all parties respond accordingly.
  • It is the state’s goal to accommodate the employee’s temporary restrictions. While a temporary modified assignment cannot be guaranteed to the employee, an assignment will be offered if available and if possible, within the agency. Only as a last resort should administrative leave be utilized. However, contact the ERTW Coordinator in OA Division of Personnel to ensure all avenues have been exhausted at possibly locating a temporary modified duty position.
  • Monitor the temporary assignment and communicate with CARO in returning employee to full duty assignment.
  • If an employee sustains permanent limitations, as certified by the authorized treating physician, that will not allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the position, the temporary assignment will cease, and further action will be taken.

Supervisor Responsibilities

  • Inform the employee of the Early Return To Work Program and that you will assist in identifying temporary modified work, based upon the doctor’s restrictions, when feasible.
  • Obtain a copy of the physician’s temporary restrictions from workers’ compensation (CARO) and identify tasks within the restrictions.
  • Communicate with the employee, when he/she will be expected to report to work and regarding the accommodations. Provide the employee with a copy of the temporary restrictions from the physician. Review the assigned tasks, physical restrictions, and work assignment prior to the employee beginning the work. Complete the ERTW agreement form. Accommodate medical restrictions within the current job. If the current job cannot be modified, identify tasks within the agency. Seek assistance from Human Resources or Departmental ERTW Coordinator when needed.
  • Monitor the employee for compliance with the restrictions. Review the assignment with the employee on a regular basis.
  • Return the employee to full duty when the authorized physician determines the restrictions may be lifted. If permanent restrictions are indicated, contact human resources for further action.
  • Maintain confidentiality of any and all medical information.

Employee Responsibilities

  • If the authorized treating physician indicates you have temporary physical restrictions that will not allow you to perform your regular job duties, consideration will be given to modifying your job tasks within the restrictions.
  • Promptly provide your supervisor and Human Resource Department any written documentation from your physician of temporary or permanent work restrictions.
  • You must maintain regular contact with your supervisor and Human Resource Department.
  • Promptly provide your supervisor and Human Resource Department documentation from the treating physician releasing you to full work status.
  • The temporary modified duty assignment will continue until such time as the authorized treating physician determines you are released to full duty, that you have permanent restrictions or when the employer should cease the assignment.