Return-to-work plans for better profits (Web Sight)

Employers often face a monstrous “grey area” when it comes to returning an injured or disabled employee to work after an extended period of leave. How quickly is the person able to come back safely? Is modified or light duty appropriate? If so, how is that likely to affect both the employee and the company in terms of disability benefits? It seems the questions are endless, and no two cases are alike. These sites tackle major issues associated with the return-to-work effort.

Modified duty is a money-saver

This article discusses modified duty as a return-to-work strategy. As the author states, “Modified duty can achieve long- and short-term savings in two ways: it allows employees to return to work sooner; it allows employers to have their workers’ compensation claims close more quickly.” There is a list of about a dozen ways that modified duty can benefit employers and a brief explanation of each. An interesting point here is how it can act as a fraud deterrent by sending the message that there are appropriate temporary job opportunities available.

RTW education, training and research

The National Institute of Disability Management and Research (NIDMAR) is an education, training and research organization that provides information on all aspects of disability management — including return to work — to workers, employers, government and insurance carriers. There are a lot of great resources here. The site provides several searchable databases containing case studies, disability management practices, literature, policies and research on return-to-work programs accessible from the “Rehadat Canada” link on the left of the screen. NIDMAR holds conferences, listed on the Web site, and puts out a newsletter called Return which offers back-to-work strategies and news for workers with disabilities that is also of interest to employers.

The role of the physician defined

This speech, from the second annual Mental Health Summit held in Toronto in June 2003, takes a look at return to work from the physician’s perspective. The speaker, Lisa Doupe, an occupational health physician, discusses improvements made by medicine to address the physician’s role in delaying return to work, and also who should be involved in the feedback loop, and how everyone can work toward shortening return to work times and avoid unnecessary delays. There are some great points made to identify the stakeholders who are both directly and indirectly involved in the return-to-work process, and how they should work together to create a more functional system, including giving greater consideration to the part of the physician. Doupe states, “Physicians need to be designed into the system as one of the foundations, for it is the physician whom the patient most often goes to first.” The speech goes on to identify several examples of physician-led projects, and re-emphasizes the point that working together is the key to solving many of the problems with return-to-work programs.

Responsibilities of employers and employees

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario (WSIB) has a nice offering of information for employers on return-to-work issues, specifically regarding early and safe return to work. The site answers questions about employer responsibilities, as well as defining those of the employee, the responsibilities of the WSIB and what the penalties are for non-co-operation. There are a few disability resources listed in this section, but more interesting is the monthly RTW bibliography offering information on related books and articles.

Quick return avoids other problems

This fairly lengthy American article examines the importance of getting injured employees back to work without unnecessary delays. It makes some good points about the problems associated with extended periods of disability. For instance, the longer the employee has to focus on an injury, the possibility of depression increases, which in turn creates either an actual or perceived need for psychological treatment, costing the employer more in terms of benefits. It also provides some good points on elements that comprise a good return-to-work program in general, different types of return-to-work programs including the benefits of light duty, and more. One word of caution is that as this is a U.S. article, any reference made to legalities and financial benefits are in accordance with state and U.S. laws, and may not be applicable in Canada.

Shannon Simson is Canadian HR Reporter’s resource editor. Her Web Sight column appears regularly in the CloseUp section. To share an interesting HR Web site, contact [email protected].

To read the full story, login below.

Not a subscriber?

Start your subscription today!