Transitional Return to Work in Workers’ Compensation Claims: New Strategies | Woodruff sawyer
In the midst of great resignation, refreshing your RTW policy and marketing it as an employee benefit can be a way to attract and retain employees, as employees will see that their employer cares about them.
RTW in the age of pandemic, endemic and technology
In the course of the pandemic, RTW solutions have opened up new doors. Consider the same remote working opportunities that have proven effective during lockdown for injured employees returning to the workplace.
Flexibility and creativity are the keys to success. Here are several ways to accommodate employees with physical disabilities:
- An office worker whose only limitation is driving may be allowed to work from home temporarily.
- An employee who has to rest their hands every hour to prevent a carpal tunnel flare-up could be given more schedule flexibility by working remotely.
- Advances in technology such as B. Speech-enabled software that converts speech dictation to text has many uses and is another consideration for workers with limited hand use.
- Employers could use existing automation to support workers with severe lifting or mobility limitations, particularly on production lines, in manufacturing, and in food processing.
- Taking it a step further, integrating robotics into the workflow can help prevent heavy work injuries in the first place.
- Injured workers receiving medical treatment could be encouraged to take advantage of telemedicine where possible to reduce travel and lost time.
- Employees commuting to the office or traveling to client meetings who are prohibited from weight-bearing could temporarily participate virtually via Zoom.
When temporary light tasks are possible remotely, it is important to understand the worker’s home environment and any obstacles to productivity, and to offer assistance where possible. If you have ergonomic issues, your insurance carrier’s claims department may be able to help. In addition to recovering from an injury, employees may face family challenges such as: B. Caregiving responsibilities if they have young children and/or aging parents. If your employee benefits package includes a nursing benefit, be sure to remind injured employees of these and other resources, such as B. Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if you have one. In this way, RTW can be integrated into an employer’s health and wellness initiatives.
With so many overlapping disability and vacation laws, including recent COVID-19 sick pay regulations like CA SB 114, workers will no doubt appreciate it if employers have information about other absence management and vacation policies, as well as public health and local and Federal orders in the RTW policy.
The pandemic has also changed the way employers and employees communicate. With less face-to-face interaction, employees feel more disconnected even without injury. A disabling injury only adds insult to an injury. It is important to check in more frequently with injured employees during the recovery and transition work period so they feel supported and adjustments can be made to the workplaces if needed. Consider appointing an RTW coordinator from your HR or People team to minimize employee frustration and improve communication.
Commit to employee benefits by updating your RTW policy
Employers now have a new perspective from which to view RTW plans, as well as expanded options like technology tools and remote work when evaluating modified and alternative work.
Woodruff Sawyer created an editable file RTW transition policy template to share with your new hires at the time of hire and to share with injured employees to let them know there are return-to-work opportunities. This shows your team that you mean business and care about their health and well-being.