Teaching children the power of the word “No” is incredibly important in helping them deal with peer pressure and setting boundaries with friends, acquaintances and most importantly, strangers. As a parent however, it is not a response that we should accept when we are telling our children to do their homework or do their chores. These are our children’s’ responsibilities and the response, “No” should not be acceptable.
When it comes to reintegrating injured workers back into the work environment, post injury, employers use the word “No” far too often. When an adjuster or case manager calls the employer to notify them that a work release has been secured for an injured worker and ask whether they are able to accommodate the workers restrictions, often, the response is, “No, they must be full duty” or “No, they must be 100%” or “No, we don’t do light duty” or “No, I don’t want them back, they were a bad hire.” Typically, the claim representative accepts that answer, hangs up the phone and increases the indemnity reserve.
The reality is, policy holders are busy and given the opportunity to say “No” and not have to deal with an injured worker they haven’t thought about for 45 days just allowed them to move on with their day. Return to work is the responsibility of the policy holder and yet, the insurance industry continues to accept “No” time and again. It is rarely questioned. It has somehow become the policy holder’s choice even though most states have laws requiring return to work. Our Federal Government certainly does.
Accepting the answer “No” when it comes to return to work is performing a disservice to the policy holder. It leaves them open to potential lawsuits or fines from the EEOC via the ADA/AAA and It’s sure to impact their experience modification and drive up their workers comp rates. It also sends the wrong message to the rest of that policy holders work force.
Most employers already know that saying “No” to return to work is inappropriate. They know that when the claim rep accepts that answer, they have just shirked their responsibility. The good news is that when the employer is called on it, in a non-confrontational manner, the result is typically a cooperative attempt at returning that worker to the job. Even in situations when the employer indicates that they don’t ever want that employee back. It’s all about knowing how to communicate this message to the employer. When communicated correctly, an insurance carrier should anticipate a 70% or greater successful return to work at the original employer, even after their initial response was, “No”.