This is the challenge for employers how do you create a light duty position that doesn’t turn into an indefinite nightmare.
There are few justifications why an employee is on light duty for a year. This is the number one call that we get in our office – I can’t seem to get the employee back to full duty work successfully.
Simple steps to success:
Step 1: Get a copy of the employee pre-injury job description – make it very clear with specific tasks and job demands.
Step 2: Send it to your adjuster and to the treating physician. Ask the adjuster to draft a letter and send it to the treating physician asking when and if the employee can return to the pre-injury job.
Step 3: If the doctor states that the employee can return to the pre-injury job start the transition. Slowly and gradually re-introduce the original position. You will get resistance but this is your answer – we discussed this with your treating physician and he or she indicates that you are totally capable of doing this position. We will gradually adjust your schedule until you are able to get back to work full duty.
Step 4: If the doctor says the employee cannot do the pre-injury job – determine if this is a permanent decision or if there is a time frame involved.
Step 5 If this is a permanent position – your workers comp claim just became an ADA issue. You must proceed in the HR arena and determine if the employee needs accommodations to continue doing the pre-injury job.
Step 6: Get your adjuster to help you navigate the workers comp process in your state – the questions you need to ask:
- Based on the medical findings that the employee cannot return to the pre-injury job can we settle the case?
- What are my options under state workers comp – is there vocational retraining options for the employee?
Step 7: Ask the adjuster if it may be time to do a functional capacity evaluation or an independent medical evaluation (IME)
Step 8: Determine if the employee is at statutory MMI – meaning this is as good as they are going to get.
Step 9: Determine if you have other employment options available for the injured employee.
Step 10: Do not allow employee to stay on light duty indefinitely without addressing the permanency of the light duty assignment. Get your workers comp adjuster to help you navigate this process and bring the claim to a conclusion.
Bottom-line, you have to be proactive – leaving the employee on light duty indefinitely is not a workers comp plan it is burying your head in the sand pretending that there is no problem.