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Washington’s Stay At Work Program

 

Background

     The Stay-At-Work Program is one component of workers’ compensation reform passed by the 2011 state legislature.  The program is based on a similar program in Oregon.  Stay-At-Work is a financial incentive program designed to encourage employers to bring injured workers back in transitional duty/light duty positions.  

Statutory Authority:     RCW 51.32.090(4)(c); RCW 51.32.090(6)

Regulation:  WAC 296-16A-010 through WAC 296-16A-050

 

How It Works

     The program has been up and running at the Department since January 10, 2012 when the Department began accepting applications for reimbursement.  Because of the effective date of the law, L&I will accept retroactive reimbursement requests for eligible return-to-work costs incurred as of June 15, 2012.   Detailed instructions along with application forms for reimbursement can be found at L&I’s new Stay at Work website: http://www.lni.wa.gov/main/stayatwork.  After the application form is completed and the required supporting documentation is obtained, it is to be mailed or faxed to the Department.  L&I is not presently accepting applications by e-mail.

 

Program Features:

      The program allows for reimbursement for the following return-to-work costs:

 Wages

              Pays 50% of Base Wage for up to 66 days actually worked over a 24 month period.   Multiple light duty job offers can be made and reimbursed over the 24 month period but the total 66-day reimbursement cap per claim still applies. Reimbursement cap per claim is $10,000.   Note that Base Wage excludes tips, commissions, bonuses, health care benefits and other fringes.   Since the reimbursement is for days actually worked, it is not available for Kept on Salary payments for periods where the worker does not actually work for the employer.  Employers have one year to complete reimbursement request which runs from the date the light duty work was performed.  

 Training

              Reimburses up to $1,000 per claim for training required to implement a transitional/light duty return to work offer.  This can cover tuition, books, fees and related expenses.        

 Tools

              Reimburses up to $2500 per claim for tools or equipment required to implement a transitional/light duty return to work offer.  Note that at the completion of the transitional/light duty job the tools and equipment remain the property of the employer and not the worker.  To qualify, the tools cannot be tools already being provided to other non-injured workers in that position.

 Clothing

              Reimburses up to $400 per claim for clothing required to implement a transitional/light duty return to work offer.   In contrast to the ownership of tools and equipment reimbursed, clothing remains the property of the worker and not the employer.  To qualify, the clothing cannot be clothing that the employer otherwise purchases for its workers in that position.

 

How Do I Apply for Stay at Work reimbursement?

      As noted above, the necessary forms for requesting reimbursement are available for download at the Stay at Work website:  http://www.lni.wa.gov/main/stayatwork, along with instructions on the necessary supporting documentation.  The forms are relatively simple to complete, but supporting documentation is required.

 Requesting Wage Reimbursement.

     To obtain reimbursement you must first complete the Stay at Work Wage Reimbursement application for Employers available online.  Supporting documentation that must be attached to the application includes:

    • Payroll records covering period of light duty/transitional work for which you are seeking reimbursement.
    • Attending physician’s description of the workers’ work-related limitations that preclude the worker from performing the at-injury job.   This document will probably be in the form of an Activity Prescription Form (APF) but can also be a chart note or similar documentation.
    • A job description of the light duty/transitional job approved by the attending physician.  Note that for those CRM clients who already have transitional work job descriptions created as part of their return-to-work program, those job descriptions will work for the reimbursement application as long as the attending physician has approved the job description.   If employers do not have a transitional duty job description prepared, there is a form available online at the Stay at Work website that will assist in preparation of the job description.   We strongly urge CRM clients to use existing job descriptions when they make the reimbursement request.

             

Reimbursement requests must be made within one year from when your firm incurs an eligible expense.

Requesting Training/Equipment/Clothing Reimbursement

      To obtain reimbursement, you must first complete the Stay at Work Expense Reimbursement Application that is available online at the Stay at Work website.  Supporting documentation that must be attached to the application includes:

    • Dated receipts for the training costs, equipment or clothing purchased to implement the light duty/transitional return to work. 
    • Attending physician’s description of the workers’ work-related limitations that preclude the worker from performing the at-injury job.   This document will probably be in the form of an Activity Prescription Form (APF) but can also be a chart note or similar documentation.
    • A job description of the light duty/transitional job approved by the attending physician.  Note that for those CRM clients who already have transitional work job descriptions created as part of their return-to-work program, those job descriptions will work for the reimbursement application as long as the attending physician has approved the job description.   If employers do not have a transitional duty job description prepared, there is a form available online at the Stay at Work website that will assist in preparation of the job description.   We strongly urge CRM clients to use existing job descriptions when they make the reimbursement request.

Reimbursement request must be made within one year of that your firm incurs an eligible expense.

 

Is Our Firm Eligible for Reimbursement?

 

In addition to the applications and supporting documentation required to support a reimbursement request, the employer must:

 

    • Be the at-injury employer or in cases of occupational disease the workers’ employer at the time the claim was filed.  This requirement means that a subsequent employer could not hire the injured worker for a light duty position and take advantage of the reimbursement benefit.
    • Continue payment of the workers’ health care benefits unless to do so would violate the current benefit plan or a collective bargaining agreement.       
    • Be paying premium to L&I for worker’s compensation coverage.  By definition this excludes self-insured employers from applying for these reimbursement benefits.

Does this Program Cost Our Firm Anything?

 

The Stay at Work Program is funded by a new premium assessment.  Like the medical aid premium, ½ of the Stay at Work premium charge may be paid by your firm’s workers.  Your annual premium notice will notify you of the workers’ share of the premium that can be deducted from the workers’ paycheck.

 

Unlike other premium assessments, the Stay at Work Program is not experience rated on an individual firm basis.  Therefore your firm’s rates will not be increased directly by utilizing the program.  However, utilization of the benefit will likely impact the rate charged to all employers over time.