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Method of Building your Programs for Light Duty and Return to Work
Getting an employee who has been away from the place of work after an injury is essential for both the employer and the employee, where the employer benefits by cutting down the cost of employee non productivity, and the employee gets to normalcy and gains financial advantage through the gained job security. Light duty is the main component of return to work and it entails responsibilities that differ from the regular duties that an employee undertakes and a clear, written policy is required to meet the above stated needs.
Among the most used return to work program elements include policies, schedule of the review of the entire return to work program, light duty positions assigned, schedule for monitoring the requirements and progress of employees who are away, communication procedure with the healthcare providers and steps to follow while initiating the program.
Some of the people the injured employee will interact with, including health care providers, human resource personnel, and insurance companies may not have the return to work interest of the employee and employer in mind and this policy will assist in getting the employee to normalcy which may bring faster recovery and reduce the cost of absenteeism, training of new worker and reduced productivity for the employer making it a chance worth taking for the employer.
Employers should have a well written policy in place which should explain to employees how being away reduces or cuts wages, how workers may lose their medical cover, how they should inform the employer on their progress and suitability to return to work how long light duty tasks will last and that this is not a new employment contract. On the employers end, the company should decide who will be in charge of the return to work and light duty program and this person should have a thorough knowledge of FMLA, ADA, the short term and long term disability coverage of the company and the workers compensation law.
The employers need to review the job descriptions of employees and find out the essential services, develop forms which employees need to fill to accept the return to work program, inform the employees on how prepared they should be, failure of which should be considered abandonment of the job, communicate the policy during the safety policy discussions if done before the injuries occurs minimize the chances of the injury reoccurring due to the program, redesign the job descriptions to meet the ADA considerations in case of a permanent physical change, and tell the employees what they stand to gain when they participate in the program.

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