Process of Creating your Light Duty and Return to Work Programs
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.
This program is worth taking due to its benefits in taking the employee back to normalcy which cannot be done by people he or she interacts with while receiving treatment and is also beneficial to the employer who cut down the costs of training new employees, reduced productivity and absenteeism.
It is essential to inform the employees how their medical cover may be lost, how they may have a cut or lose their wages, the necessity of informing the employer on the recovery progress and ability to get back to work, lasting period of light duty tasks, and that light duty and return to work programs are not new employment contracts. 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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