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How to Build Your Return to Work and Light Duty Programs
If an employee is away from workplace due to whatever reason, it is good to bring them back as this will benefit both the employer and the employee, whereby the employer will benefit by limiting the cost due to decreased productivity while the employee benefits by returning to normal situation and will be able to meet their financial and job security needs. To meet the above stated needs, it is essential to have a written clear light duty, which is a component of return to work which offer work responsibility that are different from the normal ones to the employee, and return to work plan.
Communication procedures with the health providers, procedure of initiating the program, schedule of the review process of the entire program, policies set in place, handouts about the process, light duty positions assigned, and procedures of conducting the program are some of the most common return to work program’s elements.
Some of the people the injured employee will interact with, including health care providers, human resource personnel, and insurance companies may not have the return to work interest of the employee and employer in mind and this policy will assist in getting the employee to normalcy which may bring faster recovery and reduce the cost of absenteeism, training of new worker and reduced productivity for the employer making it a chance worth taking for the employer.
Employers should have a well written policy in place which should explain to employees how being away reduces or cuts wages, how workers may lose their medical cover, how they should inform the employer on their progress and suitability to return to work how long light duty tasks will last and that this is not a new employment contract. At this stage on the side of the employer, they should find a person to fill in as the manager of the return to work and light duty program, who need to possess a strong understanding of the FMLA, ADA, short and long term disability coverage by the organization and the law on compensation of workers.
As the employers implement this program, they need to ensure that they find out the essential services in the job description of the employees, give the employees the return to work and light duty program form to fill whereby the failure of filling or rejecting is considered rejecting employment, inform the employees on how prepared they should be, communicate the policy to the employees during the safety policy conversations, redesign the job to meet the ADA regulations if there has been any physical changes on the body of the employee, and should also tell the employees what they stand to gain when they are effective participants of the program.

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