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Washington lawmakers aim to expand return-to-work law


Citing statewide success with mandated return-to-work programs for injured workers on light duty or transitional work, state lawmakers in Washington aim to allow nonprofit organizations to hire injured workers if their current employer cannot accommodate them.  

S.B. 5368, scheduled for an executive session in the House Committee on Labor & Workplace Standards Wednesday, would eliminate the requirement that injured workers enrolled in a return-to-work plan work for their current employer.

Data from the Department of Labor and Industries states that the state’s return-to-work mandates have “lowered the risk of long-term disability and can improve mental health and well-being for workers who return to positions that allow for the time necessary for healing and rehabilitation.”

However, “(s)mall employers are less likely to have suitable light duty jobs,” the bill states, adding that (i)njured workers who move out-of-state are also less likely to have access to return-to-work opportunities, especially when the employer of injury cannot offer remote work options.”