If you are a business owner, when an employee gets injured on the job, you should have policies and practices in place that allows them to file a claim against your workers compensation insurance. Once they file their claim, the actions that you then take will often be a deciding component on how quickly your employee is able to return to work. What many business owners fail to realize is that sometimes it is their actions that keep employees out of work and on their workers' compensation roles for an extended period of time.
Failing To Stay In Contact With Your Employee
Depending on the size of your business, once a person goes out of work, it may be difficult to find time to maintain ongoing contact with the injured employee. The old cliche of out of sight, out of mind, is not necessarily true, but as the day to day operations of your business continue, it is easy to get caught up doing other things.
Your operating procedures may place the responsibility on the employee to keep you up to date on their progress, medical appointments, or other relevant information. While this may be policy, it is also important that management from the company reaches out to the employee from time to time.
Once an employee is out of work, it is often easy for them to feel that they are replaceable. This is especially true if you have to hire someone else temporarily to perform their duties while they are out of work. You better believe their co-workers are going to call and tell them before the ink is dry on the contract.
Direct communication allows the employee to receive accurate information from those in charge. This helps to offset this feeling of being easily replaced and makes your employee feel more valued. If they feel that they are crucial to the operation of your company, or add a value that no one else can add, they are more likely to return to work sooner than those who are demotivated or feel that they can easily be replaced.
Failing To Provide Temporary Alternative Work
It is a given that not every industry is able to provide temporary alternative job duties to employees who are injured and receiving workers' compensation. Even if they were able to, not every employee who is injured is capable of doing a light duty or temporary job. For those that are able, it is in your best interest as an employee to attempt to find, or create, temporary alternative work duties when possible.
Studies have shown that the sooner that your injured employee can be back to the job site, the quicker they will recover and return to regular duty. If an employee has been out of work for six months there is only a 50% chance that the employee will return, but after one year that percentage drops to 25%, and after two years it drops to 1%.
To create alternative or temporary job duties there are steps you will need to take:
You must first obtain your employee's work capacities. These are the job duties they are able to perform safely and within any restrictions that have been placed on them by their attending physician.
If the treating physician is not a company physician, you may have to obtain a medical release from the employee in order to be able to communicate directly with their physician. Direct contact with the physician will often clear up any unclear or incomplete information that you may receive when attempting to go through the employee.
Research, evaluate, and review possible accommodations with the employee upon their return. Consider thinking outside of your normal box. Be willing to make reasonable accommodations. Some of these may include:
- Physically modifying their workstation
- Offering alternative or part time work schedule
- Providing additional software or new equipment to assist in their job performance
- Ensuring the employee is able to get time off for medical appointments and procedures during the work day
Other modifications able to be made depending on your company and the type of job the employee performs. There may be some costs that are involved in making these modifications, but these costs will not be nearly as high as those you will incur if you leave your employee on your workers compensation insurance roles.
Don't create hurdles for keeping your employees out of work once they are injured. Many of them were valuable components of your company prior to being injured, and will continue to be valuable once they return. Do your part in getting them back to work. For more information on workers' compensation insurance, see a site like http://www.collinginsurance.com/.