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"Return to work" can mean returning to regular employment or to modified or alternative work, terms defined in Labor Code §4658.1. It can also mean the new program that SB 863 added: Labor Code §139.48 established a return to work fund under the control of the Director of the Department of Industrial Relations:

"There shall be in the department a return-to-work program administered by the director, funded by one hundred twenty million dollars ($120,000,000) annually derived from non-General Funds of the Workers’ Compensation Administration Revolving Fund, for the purpose of making supplemental payments to workers whose permanent disability benefits are disproportionately low in comparison to their earnings loss. Eligibility for payments and the amount of payments shall be determined by regulations adopted by the director, based on findings from studies conducted by the director in consultation with the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation. Determinations of the director shall be subject to review at the trial level of the appeals board upon the same grounds as prescribed for petitions for reconsideration."

Note that this section was amended in 2013 to apply only to injuries on or after January 1, 2013.

Interestingly, former Labor Code §139.48, which was a Return-to-Work Program, was the subject of a Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation report in 2009, when the current DIR director was then the CHSWC director. That program was a resounding failure and cost more to administer than what was paid out.

Also note that SB 863 allows the employer who makes a job offer to avoid paying permanent disability advances (see amended Labor Code §4650(b)(2)) and Labor Code §4658.6 allows the employer to avoid paying for a Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit if the employer offers modified or alternative work meeting certain requirements.

See, too, Work Restrictions and Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit

Label Item Links Comments
Labor Code

Return-to-work program; Funding; Purpose 

Definitions applicable to job offers

Relief from paying permanent disability advances

Relief from providing Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit

LC §139.48

LC §4658.1

LC §4650(b)(2)

LC §4658.1

Regulations/Rules Return to work regs RTW regs  
Forms Notices of Offer of Work

Physician's Return-to-Work & Voucher Report (for date of injury o/a 1/1/13)

For earlier dates of injury, use Primary Treating Physician PR-3 & Pr-4

Return-to-Work Supplement Program Applicaiton

Notice forms

Return to Work form

PR-3 and PR-4


RTWSP Application

Websites Return-to-Work Supplement Program (RTWSP) Return-to-Work Supplement Program (RTWSP)  
Practice Tips    

California Labor Code Section 139.48 – The Return To Work Fund: What We Know and What We Don’t Know by Robert G. Rassp, Esq. 

RAND 8/2013 report for CHSWC: Identifying Permanently Disabled Workers with Disproportionate Earnings Losses for Supplemental Payment

The Return to Work Fund and the RAND Study: Inching Our Way to Eligibility Standards By Robert G. Rassp, Esq.

Rassp on Return to Work Fund 

RAND report


Rassp on Return to Work Fund & RAND

Magazine Articles

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