Returning an Injured Worker Back to Work
Long absences from work can have a lasting negative impact on workers’ future employment opportunities and thus on their economic well being. A study of injured workers in Wisconsin by the Workers Compensation Research Institute found that the duration of time off from work and periods of subsequent unemployment are lower for injured workers who return to their pre-injury employer than for those who change employers.
Here is why it’s beneficial to play an active role in returning your injured worker back to your workplace:
- You retain their skills and knowledge
- You reduce your costs of lost productivity
- You reduce your costs for recruiting and training new staff
- You build morale among your entire team by showing injured workers are valued
Effective communication by employers is critical to facilitate the injured worker’s return to work. You should explain to workers how the workers’ compensation system works and that they are required to report an accident immediately and get medical attention promptly.
Your expectations relative to work-related injuries or accidents should be part of the employee handbook (if there is one), conveyed to new employees as part of orientation, posted on bulletin boards and communicated periodically in safety reviews.
Communicate regularly with employees who are off work due to a work-related injury. Workers who know they are thought about, missed and still part of the workplace team are generally more eager to return. Some insurers will keep employers informed about how the employee’s treatment is progressing.
Another aspect of the return-to-work process is successful reintegration into the workplace. Workers’ comp insurers help you assess the injured worker’s needs and capabilities and encourage you to let workers know, in advance of any injury, that you will try to modify work activities to accommodate those who are disabled.
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