Light Duty/Return to Work

Light Duty Program

Light duty programs are an effective way to return injured employees to work quickly and, in so doing, reduce workers' compensation costs. Consider the following when implementing a light duty program.

Case by Case

It is virtually impossible to offer light duty for all injured employees. Factors such as restrictions, age, education and other factors will determine if a light duty return to work is possible. Therefore, it is recommended that your policy state that all injured employees will be reviewed for possible light duty return, however, each case will be looked at on an individual basis. Light duty is never guaranteed.

Productive Work

Make sure that the assigned light duty is productive and needed within the organization. Creating "busy" work could cause serious morale problems with the other employees.

The question often arises as to how long an injured employee should be kept on the payroll. While it is against the law to terminate an injured employee solely because he or she had an injury, you are not required to keep the employee on an indefinite basis. An employee off on workers' compensation should be treated the same as any other employee that is off work due to illness or personal problems. If it comes to termination, the injured employee should be notified that he or she is being removed from the payroll due to no return to work in sight. If and when they obtain a full release, they should contact their supervisor. No job should be guaranteed but you should at least commit to reviewing the former employee's qualifications and comparing them to any openings. If there are no matches, their resume should be kept on file for future openings.

Management Involvement

A light duty/return to work program will only be successful if management stays closely involved. There should be constant communication with the injured employee, the physician, and the workers' compensation carrier.

Early Return-to-Work Supervisor Guide


Instructions To Save Forms
ERTW Policy Statement
ERTW Availability Letter
Notice to ClearPath Mutual of Potential ERTW Case
Doctor Notification Letter
Job Demands Analysis
Physical Capabilities Worksheet
Temporary Modified Duty Assignment