In most cases, a Return to Work Plan developed between the worker and employer works well for all parties. You can be successful in your Return to Work Plan by having clear and open communication with the injured worker about their abilities and how their recovery is going. 

The WCB will give you information about the worker’s abilities, but it is much faster to simply talk to the worker and find out what kind of work they think they can do.

Having the conversation about reasonable accommodation early with an injured worker can help prepare them for what’s ahead in their Return to Work plan. By explaining that your goal is to get the worker back to work quickly and safely, you both understand your roles and expectations in the Return to Work Plan.

When a worker comes back to work after an injury, make sure to contact your adjudicator or case manager. If you do not tell us that your injured worker has returned to work, you may receive a fine or a penalty.

We will give you information about the worker’s abilities and limitations as soon as possible. You can start the process of getting them back to work by creating some simple and logical alternatives to their regular work duties. For example:

  • If a worker has injured their left hand or arm, give them tasks that can be completed with their right hand. 
  • If a worker has a back injury and can’t stay on their feet for too long, give them a job that can be completed while they are sitting down.

We recommend taking a tour of your workplace and identifying tasks or jobs that can be completed while a worker is recovering from an injury. Preparing this list before an injury happens and getting input from your staff will help you return a worker to safe and suitable work as soon as possible. You can also contact your industry-based safety program, adjudicator or case manager for ideas on modified duties. 

If you can’t provide modified duties, your worker will recover at home until they are able to return to work. 

It’s important to stay in touch with the injured worker during their recovery as abilities may change and the worker may be able to handle work that they were unable to do right after their injury.

If you have 25 or more full-time or regular part-time workers, you have a responsibility to re-employ injured workers who have worked at their job for at least 12 straight months before getting injured. You have a duty to make sure that the injured worker can return to their job in some form or another. 

The WCB will help if you and your worker disagree about the Return to Work Plan. We may:

  • review the worker’s functional abilities and the assigned modified duties to ensure the duties are safe and suitable
  • talk to you and your worker separately or together to try to find a solution everyone can agree to
  • attend the worksite to discuss and view the modified duties.

 

What if a Worker Refuses Modified Duties?

If your worker doesn’t feel comfortable with the modified duties you have assigned or they feel like the work you have given them doesn’t suit their abilities, please call the adjudicator or case manager. We will review the worker's functional abilities and the assigned modified duties to ensure that the duties are safe and suitable.

You can help to make planning a return to work more efficient in four ways.

  1. Start the reporting process as soon as possible
    Providing the worker with the time and space (such as an empty office) to report the claim shows that you want to help the worker in their recovery. This helps to start the conversation about how the worker can return to work or even stay at work.

  2. Offer modified duties as soon as possible
    Discuss available modified duties early with the worker. Modified duties assist with recovery and help the worker's return to work process, which makes them feel valued and important to your business.

  3. Prepare a Functional Abilities Form
    You can prepare a Functional Abilities Form (FAF) for your workers to take to their healthcare provider. We have created FAF templates that you can customize to fit your business.

    Preparing the FAF in advance means that the injured worker can take the form to their healthcare provider as soon as they are injured. The worker will bring the completed FAF back to you at the start of their next shift and you can give them tasks that are safe and within their abilities as soon as possible. 

    Note that most healthcare providers expect to be paid to complete a Functional Abilities Form and you are responsible for paying this cost.

  4. Prepare a list of modified duties

Creating a list of modified duties before an injury happens helps you create a Return to Work Plan more quickly. To create the list, tour your workplace and identify duties that could be done by someone with an injury. Better yet, ask your workers for their input and ideas for modified duties.
For example:

  • Are there jobs that can be done with one hand?
  • Are there jobs that can be done while sitting?
  • Are there jobs that would allow a worker to move around from time to time, if they can’t stay in one position for too long?
  • Are there jobs that would allow for more frequent breaks?
  • Are there jobs that can be done with assistance or with teams?
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