(a) In this section:
(1) "Account" means the workers' compensation return-to-work account.
(2) "Eligible employer" means any employer, other than this state or a political subdivision subject to Subtitle C, who has workers' compensation insurance coverage and who:
(A) employed at least two but not more than 50 employees on each business day during the preceding calendar year; or
(B) is a type of employer designated as eligible to participate in the program by the commissioner.
(3) "Program" means the return-to-work reimbursement program established under this section.
(b) The commissioner shall establish by rule a return-to-work reimbursement program designed to promote the early and sustained return to work of an injured employee who sustains a compensable injury. The commissioner, by rule, may expand eligibility to participate in the program to types of employers who are not described by Subsection (a)(2)(A).
(c) The program shall reimburse from the account an eligible employer for expenses incurred by the employer to make workplace modifications necessary to accommodate an injured employee's return to modified or alternative work. Reimbursement under this section to an eligible employer may not exceed $5,000. The expenses must be incurred to allow the employee to perform modified or alternative work within doctor-imposed work restrictions. Allowable expenses may include:
(1) physical modifications to the worksite;
(2) equipment, devices, furniture, or tools; and
(3) other costs necessary for reasonable accommodation of the employee's restrictions.
(c-1) The commissioner by rule shall establish an optional preauthorization plan for eligible employers who participate in the program. To participate in the preauthorization plan, an employer must submit a proposal to the division, in the manner prescribed by the division, that describes the workplace modifications and other changes that the employer proposes to make to accommodate an injured employee's return to work. If the division approves the employer's proposal, the division shall guarantee reimbursement of the expenses incurred by the employer in implementing the modifications and changes from the account unless the division determines that the modifications and changes differ materially from the employer's proposal. If determined to be a public purpose by the commissioner, and in accordance with rules adopted by the commissioner, the division may provide the employer an advance of funds under this subsection. Reimbursement or an advance of funds under this subsection is subject to the limit imposed under Subsection (c).
(d) The account is established as a special account in the general revenue fund. From administrative penalties received by the division under this subtitle, the commissioner shall deposit in the account an amount not to exceed $100,000 annually. Money in the account may be spent by the division, on appropriation by the legislature, only for the purposes of implementing this section.
(e) An employer who wilfully applies for or receives reimbursement from the account under this section knowing that the employer is not an eligible employer commits a violation.
(f) Notwithstanding Subsections (a)-(e), this section may be implemented only to the extent funds are available.
(g) The commissioner shall adopt rules as necessary to implement this section.
Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 265 (H.B. 7), § 3.244, eff. September 1, 2005.
Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 106 (H.B. 886), § 1, eff. May 17, 2007.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1388 (S.B. 1814), § 2, eff. June 19, 2009.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1388 (S.B. 1814), § 3, eff. June 19, 2009.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1388 (S.B. 1814), § 4, eff. June 19, 2009.