Incentivizing employers to hire workers in recovery

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is expanding its worker recovery program to Clark, Greene and Madison counties. The announcement was made on Feb. 4 in a press conference held at the Madison County Municipal Courthouse. On hand were: (front row, from left) Lori Dodge-Dorsey, director of Madison County Job and Family Services; Madison County Commissioner Mark Forrest; Stephanie McCloud, BWC administrator/CEO; Greta Mayer, CEO of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Clark, Greene & Madison Counties; Eric Mata, a Springfield resident who shared his recovery and employment story; (back row) London Mayor Patrick Closser; London Police Chief Glenn Nicol; Madison County commissioners David Hunter and Tony Xenikis; and Madison County Administrator Rob Slane.

(Posted Feb. 10, 2020)

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) announced on Feb. 4 that Clark, Greene and Madison counties will join a BWC program that incentivizes employers to hire workers in recovery from substance use disorder.

Under BWC’s Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program (SUR-WSP), the agency will pay for drug screenings and special training for managers to help local employers hire, better manage, and retain workers recovering from addiction to opioids and other dangerous substances.

“This is about workplace safety and meeting the challenges Governor (Mike) DeWine outlined in his RecoveryOhio initiative,” said Stephanie McCloud, BWC administrator/CEO, at a press conference at Madison County Municipal Courthouse in London.

“We know when workers in recovery get a job, they are more likely to stay on a successful path. In addition, the special training managers receive emphasizes safety and appropriate strategies that benefit the worker and employer both.”

SUR-WSP launched in October 2018 in three pilot counties: Montgomery, Ross and Scioto. DeWine expanded the program in BWC’s latest budget, pledging up to $15 million over 2020 and 2021 to include nine more counties, including Clark, Greene and Madison.

Though funded by BWC, the program is administered by local Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMH) boards or boards similar in function and mission. The Mental Health & Recovery Board of Clark, Greene & Madison Counties (MHRB) will lead efforts in its jurisdiction.

“The Mental Health & Recovery Board of Clark, Greene & Madison Counties is thrilled to join this effort,” said Greta Mayer, chief executive officer at MHRB. “Our board is investing heavily in workplace and workforce efforts, because we know that it is beneficial for both employers and people in recovery.”

MHRB will identify eligible employers and employees, disperse funding, and measure results. BWC funds cover reimbursement for pre-employment, random and reasonable suspicion drug testing, as well as training for managers and supervisors to help them better manage a workforce that includes individuals in recovery.

Ohio is consistently near the top in the nation for accidental drug overdose deaths, coming in at No. 2 in 2017 with 46.3 deaths per 100,000 residents, right after West Virginia at 57.8, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

National data shows the opioid crisis has lowered the labor force participation rate. In Ohio, opioid addiction, abuse and overdose deaths cost the state between $6.6 billion and $8.8 billion annually, according to a 2017 report from the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy at The Ohio State University.

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