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Returning to Work

An injured worker's early and successful return-to-work benefits everyone. However, BWC recognizes that each injured worker's injuries and circumstances are different. Medical providers are critical players in this process. They must understand the return-to-work goals and strategies, including establishing the expectations for an injured worker. Additionally, medical providers must manage doctor's visits and treatments and then release the injured worker to work again (with restrictions, if necessary) as soon as medically possible.

If an injured worker cannot return to work right away, BWC, the managed care organization (MCO), the doctor, and the employer will develop a return-to-work plan that is tailored for the worker's physical capabilities and the work available at the employer. The plan will allow the injured worker to remain at work or return to work as soon as possible.

If the injured worker can return to work, but not full duty, there are several types of return-to-work options available. The following programs work within restrictions to accommodate the injured worker's abilities:

  • Transitional work — This type of work gives the injured worker some real job duties for a specified length of time (generally not exceeding two or three months) to help them "ramp up" and progress back to their original job.
  • Modified work — With this type of work, physical barriers that may keep the injured worker from performing your essential job functions are adapted, altered or removed.
  • Light duty — This is work in which the job requirements are performed at reduced physical capabilities. Job tasks may be temporary or permanent.
  • Alternative work — This is work the injured worker can do if they are permanently restricted from their original job, but have other abilities and can be employed.

Important: If the doctor (POR) releases the injured worker to return to light duty or full duty work, this does not mean medical treatment will end.

Contact the MCO or BWC claims service specialist (CSS) for additional information.