Return to Work Reimbursement Program

Who Qualifies

Employees who are:

  • Medically restricted as a result of their occupational injury or illness
  • Expected to return to their regular duties within a reasonable period of time
  • Temporarily returned to a doctor-approved modified or alternative work assignment.

Transitional work should be offered if the disability is temporary and return to full duty is likely within a reasonable period of time.

Eligibility Guidelines

Eligibility requires that the following conditions are met:

  1. The doctor certifies that the worker is unable to perform their regular job duties, AND that the employee is able to perform the transitional job assignment.
  2. The injured worker is expected to return to their regular job duties within a reasonable period of time–generally no more than 90 working days.
  3. The district submits the ESD 113 WCT Invoice Statement with required signatures.
  4. The reimbursement request may not exceed the normal number of hours per day the injured worker would have worked. The request may not include holiday or annual leave hours, or other benefits excluded under the reimbursement program eligibility guidelines.
  5. Recovery progresses steadily. If after returning to the transitional job assignment, the injured worker’s condition deteriorates, does not improve as expected or discord or non-cooperation on the part of any participants develops, eligibility will be discontinued.


When a disabled employee returns to work, follow these procedures for reimbursement. Note: Reimbursement requests can not exceed the number of hours the disabled employee normally worked at the time of their injury, and can not include pay for holiday, annual or sick leave.

All requests for reimbursement must be submitted to ESD 113 WCT within 60 days from the end of the month that the light duty was performed.

1. The district submits a monthly Invoice Statement to the ESD 113 Workers’ Compensation Trust for each employee on a modified or alternative job assignment. The invoice contains a record of the hours the employee worked, as well as verification of the rate of pay and the amount of gross earning. The ESD 113 Claims Representative will review and determine eligibility.

2. WCT processes invoice statements received by the first Thursday of the month, and issues warrants to the district by the end of the month.

Light Duty vs. Modified Duty

When an injured employee has been medically released to return to work with restrictions, the method used to return that employee to work will vary depending on whether the employee is returning to work in a light duty assignment or modified duty work capacity.

Light Duty work is performed outside of the employee’s regular job duties. For example, a bus driver is restricted from being on the bus, meaning he cannot drive nor can he act as a ride-along chaperone. The school district decides to temporarily place the worker in the transportation office.

Before an employee can be placed on a light duty, RCW 51.32.090 requires the following:

  • A job description as approved by the attending health care provider. The job description must be in terms that will enable the provider to relate the physical activities of the job to the worker’s disability. District staff should coordinate this with the Workers’ Compensation Trust (WCT) staff.
  • A written job offer to the worker. There are many required elements to the letter so the WCT staff must prepare it.

Modified Duty work is an accommodation of a worker’s regularly assigned job duties. It is an informal way of returning employees to work within the restrictions imposed by the attending health care provider.

  • It does not require a formal description of the modified duty work.
  • It does not require a written job offer to the worker. However, in rare situations it might be advisable depending on personnel-related concerns.

Please contact the WCT for help when returning injured employees to either light-duty or modified-duty work.

Contact Us

  Workers' Compensation Trust