Monday, January 9, 2012

Return to Work, What is it?

                For business owners and HR professional’s alike returning injured workers to the workforce is never an easy process to navigate. Do it right and your happy, healthy employee is able to return to his former position and doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg, do it wrong and it can be a frustrating process that could cost you thousands or if you’re really unlucky see you answer the phone to hear the WSIB, the MOL or the Canadian Human Rights Commission because a disgruntled employee filed a complaint. There are several things you can do that will help prevent any issues when you initiate and follow through with a return to work program. One thing to keep in mind during this process is to maintain contact with the employee in question. A simple call to see how they're doing every week or two should be enough to monitor their progress and get an idea of when they will be ready for work again. Another important step is to have a doctor or possibly another medical professional, say a physiotherapist, to fill in a “functional abilities form” which will outline what the employee is capable of doing, what limitations exist and will give you an idea of how to best accommodate this employee. It is important to remember that just because an employee can’t do the exact job in the exact same way as before they were injured doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of working. This may be the most difficult or misunderstood aspect of a return to work program. The “duty to accommodate” is a key part of any return to work program and is required by ALL employers. This can sometimes bring about a degree of hardship in your workplace that may not have existed before the injury occurred but finding a proper fit for an injured employee is one of the most important responsibilities of employers and is key to avoiding legal hardships. Finally as with all employee issues, remember your due diligence; record what’s happened and what your next steps will be, keep employees informed and follow the proper process. For more information or to talk to an expert visit HRNC.

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