Return to Work

HR Resource
June 28, 2012 — 2,083 views  
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It's never easy to return to work, whether you're a teacher who's had the summer months off or you've simply enjoyed a tropical vacation for a few weeks. But imagine if you were forced to leave work for a substantial amount of time due to personal injuries or illnesses. These workers can have a difficult time returning to work and becoming accustomed to changes that have occurred during their sick leave.

As a human resources manager or worker's compensation professional, it's your responsibility to assist injured workers returning to work. You can help make the process seamless and more enjoyable for injured employees by using these best practices. Having a return-to-work program with these steps is helpful. This way, the human resource managers and worker's compensation professionals can ensure all laws are being met while identifying what accommodations will be made for the injured worker.

1. When a work-related injury or illness prevents an employee from returning to his or her job, you must ensure that your business is following legal protocol. Businesses must adhere to disability rights laws and file worker's compensation claims while abiding by these laws, explains the University of California at Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. You should begin the process of bringing employees back to work by contacting them and providing them with a Workers Compensation Claim Form (DWC 1).

2. You may need to determine what job functions the worker will be able to perform upon returning to work, and make any necessary accommodations. If it's not clear what the worker will be able to manage, he or she may need to consult a physician and sign a medical release to outline what their capabilities are.

 • Once any accommodations that will allow an employee to stay at his or her original job have been determined, you can offer the job to the worker.

 • Sometimes this may require you to reassign the employee to a different position that he or she will be able to perform. 

 • The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries says you may want to offer the employee shorter hours during this transitional period, or a different job temporarily.

3. Finally, it's essential to maintain an open and honest line of communication with the employee so everyone can have a clear idea of what's going on during this challenging process.

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