One thing that became clear early on this year is that employers in Washington state would not see a reprieve from workers’ comp claim costs, even when their businesses were required to close due to the pandemic. If a light-duty assignment ended due to stay-at-home orders, time-loss began to pay out. This was true regardless of programs available through other state and federal agencies.

Therefore, our priority became working with employers to assign new light-duty work for their injured employees. Luckily, access to programs such as Washington Stay-at-Work program did not change and is not impacted by working from home — if the assignment is within the restrictions set out on the Activity Prescription Form, then the employer can still earn stay-at-work reimbursement.

COVID-19 jobs are ideal for light-duty work

Thumbnails of job description documents
“COVID-19 ready” light duty job descriptions are available in the Approach client portal

As workplaces have reopened, we’ve also seen a new opportunity for employers to bring their injured employees back to light-duty work. “The Safe Start plans in Washington require lots of cleaning, monitoring, and record-keeping work that didn’t exist before,” says Jamie Graham, VP claims, at Approach. “Our clients have found these roles to be ideal as light-duty work because they are both vital in today’s workplace and flexible as to the amount of physical work required.”

For example, a worker who can do some light physical work can take on cleaning and sanitization tasks. Someone requiring sedentary work can contribute to COVID-19 security by helping keeping track of daily health screening. Electronic record keeping can even be completed at home in the case of employees unable to return to work for health or family reasons.

Top 4 benefits of light-duty work during COVID-19

Whatever the role, an employee working a light-duty position to help with the COVID-19 response will be hugely valuable for your company. Here are the top four reasons to bring your injured employees back to light-duty work during the pandemic:

  1. COVID-19 cleaning and monitoring helps to demonstrate compliance with Safe Start, which is crucial in this time of enhanced workplace safety inspections. Fines for non-compliance can easily reach $10,000 or more.
  2. Return-to-work can prevent or reduce time-loss on claims. Time-loss is hugely expensive and can cause your rates to rise up to 25% a year. This is an extra burden that few businesses could take on at this time.
  3. Work done on a light-duty assignment is still eligible for wage reimbursements under programs like Washington Stay-at-Work. Instead of fines or higher rates, your company can earn thousands in rebates and incentives.
  4. They will help to safeguard your workforce, as well as the workforce of fellow employers. These efforts will help to keep everyone safe and reduce the chance that any employer will need to close. Your injured employees can play a key role in this effort!

COVID-19 ready light-duty job descriptions

Download our Stay at Work infographic

As an Approach client, you have access to our library of COVID-19 job descriptions (plus other COVID-19 resources and safety plans). They’re all available in our Client Portal.

Tip: Access to our client portal has changed. Contact your Approach retro coordinator if you’re having trouble logging in

Says Jamie Graham, “We’ve customized thousands of light-duty job descriptions for our clients over the years, allowing them to earn millions of dollars in incentives. Our new COVID-19 job descriptions expand this capability to provide even more options for Washington employers in these unprecedented times.”

Contact your Approach retro coordinator for help creating a light-duty position that will keep your injured employees on the job. Now more than ever, it’s the best answer for your company and your workforce!