5 Considerations for Return to Work Plans

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Five Areas to Consider when Creating a Safe and Effective Stay at Work Plan or Return to Work plans

For those employees who are unable to return to their pre-injury role immediately after an injury, a stay at work or return to work plan may provide them with an option to safely return to work earlier, with only minor changes to their role or pre-injury tasks.

We recommend the development of employee specific return to work plans that address the employee’s limitations, the nature of their role, and the goals of the plan. In order for the plan to be effective you must be able to tailor it to remove any barriers associated with the injured employee’s functional limitations.

As many employers have not created or implemented plans in the past, we have identified five areas to consider in order to create a safe and effective plan.

  1. Collaboration is essential – involve the employee, their manager, and healthcare professionals. All plans should be assembled with the buy-in of everyone in order to ensure their success.
  2. Define the actions and activities required to achieve the return to work goal – establish responsibilities for everyone, activities needed and any work design changes to facilitate the return.
  3. Define the plan start and end date – plans should have a definitive end date that concludes with the worker returning to his or her pre-injury position with full duties and completing full hours for most injuries.
  4. Establish regular check-ins – use these milestones to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan and include regular follow up.
  5. Identify any ongoing healthcare needs – ongoing treatments or medical visits should be coordinated with the requirements of the proposed plan.

Many of the WCB provincial websites offer comprehensive resources that are designed to assist employers with creating and managing personalized return to work plans.

Effective return to work plans and stay at work plans offer employers the greatest opportunity to minimize costs associated with the employee absence. So where possible it is important to incorporate them into your claims management process.

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