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Definition of Return to Work

Return to work means an injured worker is able to go back to work. When a worker is injured on the job, an employer's first responsibility is to get that worker the appropriate medical care and attention that the worker's injury requires. The next most important thing for both an employer and an injured worker is that worker's return to work. An injured worker's return to work is important for an employer because the longer a worker is unable to return to work, the higher are that employer's workers' compensation costs and related business costs. For an injured worker, the longer the injury keeps that worker from going back to work, the harder it is for that worker to ever return to work. Studies have shown that the sooner an injured worker can return to work, the better the medical outcome will be.

In order to get an injured worker back to work as soon as possible, return to work programs are in place in most states. The program's purpose is to promote the rehabilitation of an injured worker and enhance that worker's recovery process from their work-related injury. A part of this process may be helping an injured worker find restricted duty or light duty work from their employer until they are able to return to the job they had before their injury.

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