Newsline No. 63-07
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September 17, 2007

Small employers, have you made changes to your workplace to bring an injured employee back to the job? If so, you may qualify for reimbursement from a special fund

According to the RAND Corporation, a non-profit think tank, both employers and injured workers benefit when employees return to work quickly following a workplace injury. That’s why the workers’ comp reforms implemented in 2004 placed the emphasis on providing injured workers with sound medical treatment and getting them back to work as soon as possible.

It’s also why the state developed an incentive program that helps small employers by providing up to $2,500 in reimbursements for dollars spent on workplace modifications that bring an injured employee back to the job.

Specifically, if your employee was injured on or after July 1, 2004 and you employed 50 or fewer full-time employees on the date of injury, you may qualify for reimbursement of up to:

(1) $1,250 in expenses you incur that allow a temporarily disabled employee to perform modified or alternative work within physician-imposed temporary work restrictions while recovering
(2) $2,500 in expenses you incur to bring a permanently disabled employee back to sustained modified or alternative work within physician-imposed permanent work restrictions.

Reimbursement can be for any of the following expenses, provided they are specifically prescribed by a physician or are reasonably required by restrictions laid out in a medical report:

(1) Modification to worksite
(2) Equipment
(3) Furniture
(4) Tools
(5) Any other necessary costs reasonably required to accommodate the employee’s restrictions.

Of course, there are some restrictions. For example, if your employee was under both temporary and permanent restrictions and you made modifications to accommodate both, the maximum possible reimbursement is $2,500. You should also be aware that “sustained modified or alternative work” means work anticipated to last at least 12 months. All the specifics are spelled out in the Division of Workers’ Compensation’s (DWC) return to work regulations.

If you’d like to seek reimbursement for modifications, you must submit the “Request for Reimbursement of Accommodation Expenses” form posted on the DWC Web site within 90 calendar days of the date of the expenditure (the filing date may be extended if you show good cause). Don’t forget to attach copies of all pertinent medical reports that contain the work restrictions being accommodated, any other documentation supporting the request, and all receipts for accommodation expenses. Send the form and your attachments to:

Return to work reimbursements
Division of Workers’ Compensation
1515 Clay Street, 17th floor
Oakland CA 94612

Questions? Call (510) 286-7100 and ask to speak to a representative of the return to work program.