HR Administration

Ailing Economy Hurts Return-to-Work Efforts for Injured Employees: Analysis

By Sheena Harrison

Dec. 1, 2011

The economic downturn has made it more difficult for injured employees to return to work, according to a study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.

In a report released Nov. 29, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based WCRI studied workers’ compensation procedures and outcomes in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which were deemed to have faster and higher return-to-work rates than other states.

In the study, WCRI said the economy has reduced the impact of certain workers comp practices in those states.

“Against a backdrop of high unemployment, some injured workers may face even greater challenges in returning to work, potentially leading to increases in the duration of disability,” WCRI said in the report.

It said the Great Recession made it more difficult for employers to offer modified work duties for injured workers that would allow those employees to re-enter the workplace during their recovery.

“Employers are leaner and less inclined to offer light, transitional or modified duty in the economic downturn, particularly employers who do not want to have to lay off another employee in order to bring an injured worker back to light duty during the healing period,” according to the study.

The institute also said there are fewer jobs for unemployed injured workers to seek, and that some employers are reluctant to hire workers with permanent work restrictions.

Despite increased challenges, the down economy has created a financial incentive for employees to return to work as soon as possible—particularly when they stand to lose temporary disability benefits, the study said.

Sheena Harrison writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email

Stay informed and connected. Get human resources news and HR features via Workforce Management’s Twitter feed or RSS feeds for mobile devices and news readers.

Sheena Harrison writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management.


blog workforce

We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog

HR Administration

Policy management: What is it and what does it look like for HR?

Summary Policy management involves the creation and maintenance of administrative procedures and guidel...

hr policy, policy automation, policy management

workforce blog


Minimum Wage by State in 2022 – All You Need to Know

Summary The federal minimum wage rate is $7.25, but the rate is higher in 30 states, along with Washing...

federal law, minimum wage, pay rates, state law, wage law compliance

workforce blog

HR Administration

Rest and lunch break laws in every US state

Summary Federal law does not require meal or rest breaks Some states have laws requiring meal and rest ...