Washington employers who provide temporary work that allows an injured worker to “Stay at Work” while recovering from an injury will be eligible to be reimbursed for half of the worker’s wages.
This new program is part of the historic workers’ compensation reform bill signed by Governor Chris Gregoire. “The Stay-at-Work Program is so important because it helps employers keep their valuable, experienced workers,” said Judy Schurke, director of the Department of Labor & Industries (L & I). “And workers don’t lose the income they would if they were off the job collecting partial wage-replacement benefits.”
Keeping an injured worker in a light-duty job while they recover also helps employers avoid significant increases in their L & I premium rates.
Schurke said settlement agreements may be a good option for older workers who need financial help for a short time after an injury and don’t want to retrain for a new career.
L & I also will expand its fraud-fighting efforts by participating in a national insurance information exchange with other workers’ compensation insurers. The bill also requires L & I to address fraudulent billing practices by medical providers.
Another bill, passed earlier this session, focuses on ensuring injured workers get the highest quality care. That bill created a statewide medical provider network to treat injured workers and expanded the Centers of Occupational Health and Education throughout the state.
Together, these changes to the workers’ compensation system will save more than $1 billion over the next four years.
Source: Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
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