The Department’s Stay at Work Program – A new program to help employers keep injured workers on the job – pays half the wage plus expenses.
The Department of Labor and Industries’ Stay at Work program provides a strong financial incentive for employers to offer medically approved light duty jobs. The Department will reimburse the employer for 50% of the base wages, for up to 66 work days, with a maximum amount of $10,000. The Department will also reimburse employers for expenses designed to assist the worker’s return to work, including the cost of necessary training, tools or clothing. To obtain reimbursement, the employer must create a job description outlining the job duties and physical demands and provide it to your doctor.
The Department states the purpose of this new program is to encourage more employers to return their injured workers to work, keeping costs down. The theory is that injured workers who stay active and connected to work recover faster and with more success. More information can be found at www.stayatwork.lni.wa.gov.
One potential problem is that employers may use this as a tool to create light duty jobs designed to humiliate or punish injured workers. If you get any sense your employer is going to offer you a light duty position in bad faith, I suggest you call an attorney, right away, for a free consultation. Additionally, you should document all communication and conversations with the employer and the Department, involving the return to work plan. The law provides that if the light duty job ends prior to the closure of the claim, then the injured worked should be placed back on time loss benefits.
Dane D. Ostrander
Williams, Wyckoff & Ostrander, PLLC