Return to Work – Do I Need an Offer Letter?

Why do I need to have an offer letter that’s offering a person a light-duty job for my return to work program? We get this question all the time. The answer is simple, attorneys. You have to have it for documentation.

Here’s the deal. When you have a return to work program in place, you must document every step, and the most crucial portion of all of this is that offer letter that allows the person to accept or reject the job you’re making available for them. Here’s what happens. The person gets released from the doctor, and they have restrictions, and they can’t come back to their full capacity, but you have a spot for them. For you to be entirely in compliance, you need to send a letter to that employee, and you need to do several things inside that letter.

Thank the Injured Employee

First, you need to thank them for being willing to come back on a light-duty basis. The next thing you need to do is let the team member know that you have a position for them, and you need to define what that position is. Then, it would be best if you talked about how much that position pays because, in a light-duty return to work program, the job you have may not pay the same amount as their regular job. That’s okay. You’re not required to pay them what they were making. You’re only required to pay them what is commensurate with the position you’re offering. It doesn’t mean that we would advocate you to do that, but that’s just required.

Identify Their Supervisor

The next thing you need to do is identify who their supervisor is and provide that contact information because it may be a different supervisor than they have for their regular job. Once you do that, you need to give them their schedule and let them know when they’re going to work and what department they need to report to and all of that stuff.

Remind The Team Member of Their Responsibility

The other thing you need to do inside of that offer letter is to remind them that it is incumbent on them to communicate with you and their immediate supervisor about any upcoming doctor’s appointments or restrictions should they be placed. They must realize that this is their responsibility, and you can do it in a tactical, non-confrontational way.

They Must Either Accept or Reject the Offer

Then, you want to close the letter out by simply saying, “If this is acceptable to you and you would like to accept this light-duty position, please indicate by checking the box below. If you are not interested in coming back light-duty and you want to reject this position, please check the box saying that you’re going to reject.” It would help if you had this for a couple of reasons. The first one is that if somebody comes back to work with you in a light-duty capacity, it saves you money.  You won’t have any indemnity payments associated with that worker’s compensation claim; the value of the claim will be reduced by 70% when it goes into your experience mod. It’s imperative for that reason.

The second thing that can happen is if they reject it. If the team member refuses it,  guess what? There’s no indemnity in the worker’s compensation claim. It stays medical-only unless, God forbid, there’s a settlement or something like that, and you still get the 70% reduction in the claim value when the claim gets reported to NCCI. The offer letter is important because it puts you in a position where you can do both. If they accept it, you win. If they reject it, you win.  While it’s sad that the employee is not going to be able to come back and be integrated into the culture of the company, it’s a victory for you because you have controlled the exposure to the indemnity side of that claim and how it will impact your experience mod.

If you would like a copy of a sample letter template, click the button down there. Request it. We’ll send it to you free of charge and no further sales games, no hard close, nothing. We’re here to provide you resources. You know what we do, and if you need help, I’m sure you’ll call us.

 

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