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New York State
Workers' Compensation Board
OFFICE OF THE CHAIR
20 Park Street   Albany, New York 12207
Governor David A. Paterson


Subject No. 046-309

Return to Work Policy

Date: May 14, 2009

Injuries are costly to all members of today's workplace partnership. While accident prevention is the best way to reduce overall injury costs, an effective workplace Return to Work (RTW) Program is the best way to optimize worker outcomes and manage cost after an injury has occurred. Early assistance in helping workers return to work as soon as possible allows the injured worker to maintain a positive connection to the workplace and alleviates many of the concerns, fears and frustrations experienced by the worker following a workplace injury. Moreover, the longer an injured worker is removed from the workplace the higher costs will be to employers and carriers.

The Workers' Compensation Board is actively developing policies and procedures to support employers and carriers in setting up effective RTW Programs for their injured employees. To that end we have developed a pamphlet to explain RTW to employees in an informational question and answer format. We have also developed a Return to Work Program handbook for employers to use. This model program details the steps to setting up an effective program, and contains a sample Policy Statement, sample forms and form letters, and descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of all parties in the RTW process.

We strongly recommend that stakeholders review and make use of these documents at the earliest opportunity. As the Board develops new policies and/or procedures to implement this initiative, we will inform the workers' compensation community.

WCB Communication Guidelines

In order to foster appropriate communications among the participants in the New York workers' compensation system, the Board has also developed Communications Guidelines, to indicate what communications may be properly made by, and with, claimants, claimants' counsel, the employer, the employer's workers' compensation carrier, the employer and carriers' counsel, the Board and health care providers. These guidelines apply to all ex-parte communications, including those regarding Return to Work issues. The guidelines can be found on the Board's website at:

http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/ReturnToWork/CommunicationGuidelines.jsp

or obtained from any Board office.

 

Zachary S. Weiss
Chair