Light Duty Work in L&I Claims and Workers’ Compensation Claims
Offers for easy operating conditions
First of all, it offers employers reimbursement. Here, employers can reimburse costs if they place employees at work after an accident and offer them light work. It calls this “Stay at Work” (WA-SAW) program. If the applicant who is applying for an accident at work has limitations due to the conditions attached to the application, the employer can directly offer a job that falls under these restrictions. Interestingly, it considers easy work to be acceptable if it meets the following criteria:
1) The claimant of an accident at work must have restrictions due to the conditions associated with compensation to its employees. These limitations should affect their performance.
2) The employer must provide the attending physician with a written (and detailed) job description for easy work.
3) The provider of stevedoring services must approve the light service in writing.
Once the criteria are met, the employer can offer the employee an easy job. The supply of easy jobs varies greatly from employer to industry. For example, supermarkets often offer shareholders or controllers easy tasks such as greeting at the door. Another good example is sedentary office work. In addition, if the salary in the new job is 5% less (or less) than that of the employee previously received, the employee may claim the loss of the benefit.
The economic incentives of this program are beneficial to employers. In fact, the program has many other advantages. First, it helps to keep employers and employees connected in the recovery process after an accident at work. It also creates less ambiguity about the status of the staff member’s work. These benefits are only realized if the program is used for the right reasons. Unfortunately, this happens too often.
The reality of easy work in some of the claims of L’I
I’ve seen employers offer easy “jobs,” such as watching safety videos throughout the shift. I’ve also seen easy “work” suggestions when you’re sitting at a desk doing nothing. Obviously, this is not an easy job, and its only goal is to reduce costs. Employers sometimes ask claimants for compensation to perform duties that go beyond their job descriptions.
Some employers advise workers with easy work to prescribe medical appointments and treatment after hours. This can be tricky, if not impossible. Finally, many workers are placed under a working microscope while doing light work. For example, when the employer registers them a minute later. Another example: the employer writes them down for playing games on a mobile phone because of sheer boredom, because the easy job was business, not at the table. Another way is to record an employee when he puts a swollen leg on an office shelf to reduce pain and swelling until he or she does nothing. These are all practical examples. Surprisingly, the review of staff files raises the question of why this excessive performance control was not carried out prior to an accident at work or a professional illness.
Protect people with employee compensation claims
Previously, employers and administrative staff had called me to review L’I programs such as WA-SAW. Proponents of the program cite studies, diagrams, and data that show that an early return to work (even in an easy shift) significantly reduces long-term disability. I do not dispute these findings. I also want the employees I represent to regain their quality of life as quickly as possible, including full compensation potential. However, I believe that the WA-SAW program is often abused and does not achieve its objectives.
When employers use the program only to reduce costs, ignoring the applicant’s feelings or needs about work trauma, I too often find that employees are angry with their employer. I see how the work environment becomes hostile, I develop mental health problems, and accusations of L-I become unnecessarily controversial. For this reason, I will continue to advocate for a more employee-centered review of these motivational programs.