Tumwater, WA – A program that encourages employers to provide injured workers with light-duty jobs has paid off with $19.4 million for the business community.
The Stay at Work program reimburses employers who provide medically approved light-duty jobs to their employees after a workplace injury. The reimbursement incentive, offered by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is a big one: paying half the employee’s base wages, plus training, equipment and clothing costs to keep the injured worker in a modified job while healing from their injury.
In its first two years, the program paid $19.4 million to more than 2,300 employers who provided light-duty or modified work to 8,200 workers.
“I love this program,” says Tatyana Fomenko with Rizzuto Foods, a wholesale bakery manufacturer operating in Spokane since 1991 with 46 employees. In the past year, Rizzuto Foods has helped three injured workers by giving them medically approved light-duty work after an injury. The Stay at Work program reimbursed Rizzuto Foods with nearly $8,000 in wages.
“Our business has a better relationship with our workers because of this program,” says Fomenko. “They feel like we care about them.”
Fomenko said that, at first, her workers didn’t want to do the light-duty jobs they were asked to do, but eventually she earned their trust by giving them light-duty jobs that made them feel valuable. “We’ll have them oversee operations for quality control, which is an important job in our company,” says Fomenko, adding that there is too much opportunity for an injured worker to slip through the cracks when they are on wage-replacement benefits while staying at home. “We would rather have them here where we can help them stay connected to their work. They feel better when they see that we care about their recovery.”
Businesses can learn more by attending a free monthly webinar to better understand the Stay at Work incentives. Or register for one of several free workshops offered around the state. All workshops will be held from 9 – 10:30 a.m. at the L&I office in the following locations:
- Feb. 13
312 SE Stonemill Dr., Suite 120
- April 24
729 100th Street S.E
- June 17
15 W Yakima Ave., Suite 100
- August 21
12806 Gateway Dr. S.
To register, go to www.StayAtWork.Lni.wa.gov or call 1-800-574-2829.
Source: WA L&I