Returning to work after an injury can be a difficult transition. This is especially true if the employee is able to perform some duties, but is not 100 percent recovered. According to the North Carolina Chamber, workers’ compensation claims have decreased by nearly 50 percent since the 1990s.
However, many employees still suffer from on-the-job injuries that require them to take time off work. The following are some general return to work policies and procedures that both employees and employers may follow to work toward a smooth transition after an occupational injury in Raleigh.
Guidelines to Follow
The employee should be visiting a doctor regularly for treatment of the injuries. The doctor will evaluate the patient to determine his or her ability to return to work, even on a limited basis. If the doctor feels that the patient can return to work, then the doctor will release the patient.
A “Return to Work” form must be filled out and returned to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. This will inform the Workers’ Compensation office that the employee has returned to work on either a permanent or trial basis. Compensation may then be discontinued or reduced if the employee is returning at a lower pay. Some work with an attorney such as at Brent Adams & Associates in Raleigh when evaluating eligibility for benefits before and during the return to the workplace.
When the employee is planning on returning to work after an injury, he or she should let the employer know as soon as possible so that the company can appropriately plan for the return.
Examples of things a company could do to aid a recovering employee are:
- provide special aids;
- create a specialized work schedule; and
- have duties modified based on any new limitations.
If an employee becomes partially disabled after suffering a workplace injury, he or she is entitled to transitional work. This allows an employee to start with lighter duty and transition into more complex duties after he or she shows signs of further recovery. If the company has specific return to work policy and procedures, the employer should review these with the employee.
Employers must attempt to find alternate positions for employees returning to work after an injury. If none exist, then the employee may continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits until finding a job that can be performed based on his or her disabilities. However, if the employer has an alternate job available and the employee refuses it, he or she is not entitled to further benefits.
Return to Work Policy and Procedures
The employee and employer ideally should be working in tandem to support the employee’s return to work. All companies should have return to work policy and procedures that detail the processes that injured employees must follow when they return to work. Communication is important when returning to work after an injury. Employees should keep employers informed of their progress and inform them of an estimated return to work date.
Return to work policy and procedures should analyze the number and types of on-the-job injuries over the period of several years. Each position within the company should be analyzed with a list of main job duties that each position entails. Through these descriptions, employers may identify jobs that are light duty and may be suitable for injured workers returning to the workplace.
You’re Back! Returning to Work Happy and Healthy
By following state guidelines and keeping an open line of communication with their employer, employees returning to work after an injury will have the support they need to return to work as a contributing member of a team. By creating return to work policy and procedures and thoroughly evaluating the employee’s abilities, employers can save money on training costs and workers’ compensation expenses. It’s a win-win situation for both parties involved.