Featured Blogger - Rebecca Shafer: Working With Unions When Setting Up Return to Work Programs

Featured Blogger - Rebecca Shafer: Working With Unions When Setting Up Return to Work Programs

Hello, as the "featured blogger" this week, I'll be writing on topics that relate to workers' compensation cost containment.  Some will be basic, some advanced.  Please let me know if there's anything in particular you would like me to focus on and I'll do my best to accommodate you.  Write to me at:  RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com


Employers with unions face very different and unique challenges not faced by non-union companies. Consider these 15 Tips in designing and implementing an effective return-to-work policy.

1.   Determine what management rights you may already have to implement a return-to-work program.

2.   Negotiate counterproductive clauses out of the collective bargaining agreement.

3.   Consider buying out in negotiations particularly onerous clauses, such as minimum manning provisions, limitations on temporary transfer of employees and prohibition on work out of classification.

4.   Obtain top management commitment to the program. Educate in-house counsel.

5.   Communicate the program to the unions, employees and supervisors by sitting down and talking with them. Approach the most receptive unions first. Use them as a selling point before approaching more difficult unions.

6.   Eliminate collateral source payments, such as long-term disability, short-term disability and use of vacation and sick time, effectively allowing employees to earn more when they don't work than when they do.

7.   Show the employees and union how much workers' compensation costs the company with sound factual information.

8.   Use a comparison showing how much in sales it takes to pay for injuries. Sales to Pay for Accidents Calculator.

9.   Relate the costs to the financial stability of the company.

10. Relate the costs to the impact on profit sharing plans.

11. Get signed waivers to avoid future claims, such as American with Disability (ADA) claims.

12. Request "withdrawal cards" before lump sum settlements are authorized.

13. Share savings with employees who participate in the company's return-to-work program. Add this to bonuses, not to wages, so it does not become an ongoing obligation.

14. Consider employer legal responsibilities under ADA . Remind the union of their own obligations to support these legal requirements.

15. Have a company representative attend all hearings to describe the job requirements and offer details as needed.

Read my other blogs:

For more cost-saving tips go to WC Cost Reduction Tips.

Show the REAL cost of workers' comp with the Real Cost Calculator.

Workers' Comp Kit® is a web-based online Assessment, Benchmarking and Cost Containment system for employers.  

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws are different. Consult with your corporate legal counsel before implementing any cost containment programs. 

© 2008 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc.  All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@WorkersCompKit.com