When an employee is injured on the job, there are many issues that you will have to address. Of course, you’ll want to discover the cause of the injury to see if adjustments need to be made so that something similar does not occur in the future. You’ll also need to open a worker’s compensation claim for the employee and ensure that their medical and financial needs are addressed.
Ideally, you’ll have a procedure already outlined that you can follow in the event of a workplace injury to one of your employees, and that procedure should contain a section on facilitating a smooth return to work for the employee once they have recovered. While the details of the return to work plan will vary depending on the specifics of the injury, the type of work involved, and the structure of the company, the importance of focusing on it is universal.
When you do sit down to put together a specific return to work plan for an injured employee, it’s important to have everyone involved in the case participating. That means a company representative, the injured employee, their medical provider, their supervisor, and possibly an occupational health professional or other specialist, depending on the situation. This is not an exhaustive list, and the more people are involved, the more comprehensive your plan can be.
Making the process so inclusive is essential to ensure the comfort of all parties moving forward, as well as the success of the program itself. Trying to structure a return to work program without all of the necessary information will, at the very least, make the transition less smooth than it could be, and it may cause outright failure. This is obviously a loss for the employee, but it’s a loss for you as the employer too, as it means you’ll have to invest more in hiring and training a replacement, and it could also mean a longer and more costly worker’s compensation claim.
Timing and Coordination
One of the most important aspects of putting together a return to work plan is when you start the conversation. While you don’t want to contact an injured employee too early because they may feel you’re pressuring them to come back quickly, you also don’t want to wait too long. The specific timing that’s appropriate will vary depending on the nature and severity of the injury in question, but generally it’s good to reach out between one and three weeks after the injury to begin the dialogue about returning to work.
When you do this, it’s also important not to make the employee feel that your only motivation is financial. When they feel that you have concern for them and their situation, they’ll be more secure and more willing to work with you on finding a transitional role during their recovery.
One possible part of your return to work plan is an offer of modified duty or transitional work. This is one of the best ways to make sure the employee gets back to work as quickly as possible because it allows them to assume modified duties until they’re able to take on their full job responsibilities again. Involving their direct supervisor as well as a medical or occupational health professional in this discussion is important, as is making sure that the employee feels confident they can perform the duties outlined in the description of the transitional role effectively.
If you’d like to learn more about the ways we can help you put together a comprehensive return to work program, as well as the great range of business insurance policies we offer, contact our offices today.