How To: Return to Work Programs
Tips For Establishing or Improving a Return to Work Program
Unfortunately, injuries do sometimes occur at the workplace and it’s every employer’s goal to return that person back to full status as soon as medically possible. A barrier to helping that process is when an employer doesn’t enforce or simply doesn’t have, a return to work (RTW) program. The purpose of the program is to provide guidelines for employees who are temporarily unable to work due to work-related injuries or illness. A RTW program should include how they can return to the workplace in a modified capacity and be productive until they can return to their normal work duties at full capacity. It should be available to all full-time or regular part-time employees.
Any employee that has work restrictions, or is unable to perform their normal duties as ordered by the treating physician due to a work-related injury or illness, is considered on “transitional duty.” Prior to assignment, a physician capabilities evaluation should be filled out by the treating physician and submitted to the human resources department of the employer. Transitional duty positons must ensure:
- Assignment is consistent with the limitations of the injured employee
- Work is meaningful and meets a need for productivity
- It maximizes skills and talents to allow for gradual recovery
These jobs may also include: a completely different assignment, modification of an existing job task or the same job but with fewer hours. Human resources should establish correspondence with the adjuster that's assigned to the claim.
Together, they can decide on which clinic should be chosen to rehab the employee. Once a clinic is established, communication with the clinic is beneficial so they have a clear understanding from the employer on what the job duties for that position entails, instead of leaving it up to the employee to explain their duties. Communication between human resources, the clinic and adjuster is important throughout the claim. This way, everyone is updated and informed on the progress of the employee. One should schedule regular follow-ups to ensure the employee is meeting their milestones and is on schedule to return to work in the proper time frame that the medical restrictions have allowed.
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