Fedweek

The Labor Department has issued guidance including goals for agencies under the administration’s recently announced “PEER” (Protecting Employees, Enabling Reemployment) initiative.

Under that initiative, agencies are to reduce total injury and illness case rates in general and lost-time cases in particular; improve the timeliness of overall claims in general and wage-loss claims in particular; increase the rates at which employees return to work within 45 days of an injury (when they typically are still in regular pay status) and in cases of moderate to severe injury or illness; and make full use of electronic filing.

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The initiative “serves as an opportunity for heads of federal departments and agencies to recommit to a safety and health-conscious federal workforce—and a workforce that receives timely benefits through a modern and efficient workers’ compensation system,” a memo to agencies says.

The memo includes a chart of government-wide goals including to reduce the lost-time case rate from 1.04 to 1 percent and maintain it there, to reduce the total case rate from 1.93 percent to 1.85 percent in 2020 and by an additional 4 percent each of the following two years; and increase the return to work rate from the baseline 90.06 percent in 2018 to 90.96, 91.87 and 92.79 percent over 2020-2022.

The chart also includes baseline rates and target rates for Cabinet departments and major independent agencies. That chart shows, for example, that the total case rate ranges from 4.72 percent at DHS to 0.22 percent at Education, and that those two also are at the extremes of the lost-time rate, from 2.3 to 0.15 percent.

The initiative’s goals are similar to those of prior programs in the Bush and Obama administrations. However, the AFGE union has said that managers could be pressured to improperly deny leave and force workers to return to work too soon to meet the goals and noted that no money was added to agency budgets to enhance safety programs.

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Federal Manager’s Handbook, 5th Ed.