In the first part of this two-part article, we discussed many of the benefits of developing a return to work program. In this section, we will discuss how to establish a successful return to work program. When a worker is significantly injured on the job, employers need to be aware of Florida workers’ compensation law and do everything in their power to help their employees successfully return to work when they are medically cleared.
Communication With the Worker
The first step to creating a successful return to work program is to remain in close contact with your injured worker. This begins with assisting them with the claim process, ensuring that they are aware of all available benefits, and ensuring that they understand the return to work program. As your worker recovers from injury, you need to maintain contact with them and make certain that they are aware of the process as a whole.
Creating Work Tasks
Along with keeping in close contact with the worker, it’s also important to communicate with your worker’s medical provider to verify their medical status and ensure they are prepared to return to work before you allow them to. Another benefit of working with their medical provider is that this communication can help you develop a task list of the types of functions that the worker can perform during their return to work program and what restrictions they may require.
With any recovery process, it’s important that the worker can perform their “essential job functions” when they return to work; however, it’s also important to provide your employee with reasonable accommodations as they re-establish themselves in the workplace. Whether it’s a part-time schedule, extra breaks, or temporary, light work tasks, any of these accommodations can greatly benefit your worker’s recovery process. For example, in a physically active industry like construction, workers can return to work and partake in the following types of activities when medically cleared:
- Undergoing training courses
- Front office tasks (answering phones, filing, coordinating)
- Inspections and safety audits
- Maintaining, storing, and restocking supplies, tools, and other light materials
Adjusting the Plan
The final step to a successful return to work program is putting the plan into action. As the worker progresses through your program, you can steadily adjust their schedule and tweak their accommodations and restrictions. It’s also important that you have an open line of communication with your entire workforce and especially your management-level employees. From training to providing written instructions to mentoring your staff, developing a successful return to work program can create a positive work environment while also ensuring that your business remains in compliance with Florida workers’ compensation rules.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.