California Labor Codes 139.48 1040

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§ Return-to-Work Program

(a) (1) The administrative director shall establish the Return-to-Work Program in order to promote the early and sustained return to work of the employee following a work-related injury or illness.

(2) This section shall be implemented to the extent funds are available.

(b) Upon submission by eligible employers of documentation in accordance with regulations adopted pursuant to subdivision (h), the administrative director shall pay the workplace modification expense reimbursement allowed under this section.

(c) The administrative director shall reimburse an eligible employer for expenses incurred to make workplace modifications to accommodate the employee's return to modified or alternative work, as follows: (1) The maximum reimbursement to an eligible employer for expenses to accommodate each temporarily disabled injured worker is one thousand two hundred fifty dollars ($1,250). (2) The maximum reimbursement to an eligible employer for expenses to accommodate each permanently disabled worker who is a qualified injured worker is two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500). If the employer received reimbursement under paragraph (1), the amount of the reimbursement under paragraph (1) and this paragraph shall not exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500). (3) The modification expenses shall be incurred in order to allow a temporarily disabled worker to perform modified or alternative work within physician-imposed temporary work restrictions, or to allow a permanently disabled worker who is an injured worker to return to sustained modified or alternative employment with the employer within physician-imposed permanent work restrictions. (4) Allowable expenses may include physical modifications to the worksite, equipment, devices, furniture, tools, or other necessary costs for accommodation of the employee's restrictions.

(d) This section shall not create a preference in employment for injured employees over noninjured employees. It shall be unlawful for an employer to discriminatorily terminate, lay off, demote, or otherwise displace an employee in order to return an industrially injured employee to employment for the purpose of obtaining the reimbursement set forth in subdivision (c).

(e) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply: (1) "Eligible employer" means any employer, except the state or an employer eligible to secure the payment of compensation pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 3700, who employs 50 or fewer full-time employees on the date of injury. (2) "Employee" means a worker who has suffered a work-related injury or illness on or after July 1, 2004.

(f) The administrative director shall adopt regulations to carry out this section. Regulations allocating budget funds that are insufficient to implement the workplace modification expense reimbursement provided for in this section shall include a prioritization schema.

(g) The Workers' Compensation Return-to-Work Fund is hereby created as a special fund in the State Treasury. The fund shall consist of all penalties collected pursuant to Section 5814.6 and transfers made by the administrative director from the Workers' Compensation Administration Revolving Fund established pursuant to Section 62.5. The fund shall be administered by the administrative director. Moneys in the fund may be expended by the administrative director, upon appropriation by the Legislature, only for purposes of implementing this section.

(h) This section shall be operative on July 1, 2004.

(i) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2009, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2009, deletes or extends that date.