An employee injured at work usually has special needs and concerns that have to be addressed. The employer should be a stand-up force in assisting the employee to restore his life back to normal. If that is done, the relationship between workers and managers is strengthened and the company as a whole benefits. With an effective return-to-work policy, work injury claims in Colorado and elsewhere can be better managed while morale is simultaneously strengthened.
However, employers should avoid taking a stand that tries to compel a disabled worker back to work prematurely. Furthermore, where the worker returns with medical modifications and restrictions, it’s imperative that employers honor those limitations in a spirit of good faith. Nothing will get worker morale sabotaged quicker than knowing that the employer’s practice is to arrogantly insist that a worker exceed his medical limitations.
Instead, the employer should respect the doctor’s orders and seek to find solutions such as part-time work, reasonable accommodations, light duty and reassignment where appropriate. The employer can side with the employee and against the workers’ compensation carrier on occasions when the carrier takes an unreasonable position. The long-term benefit to the company of a courageous act of concern for employee welfare may be remarkable.
It may be that direct and open communications between the employer and the injured employee can avoid misunderstandings and keep the relationship free of mutual resentment. The workers are the lifeblood of the company in many respects and the company cannot benefit from an adversarial relationship. With the instant power of communications in these days, an employer can get a bad rap on the social media networks that could reverberate negatively.
Conversely, there can be positive talk on the social media airwaves about the company that treats its employees with respect and honest concern, pursuant to a consistent and fair return-to-work policy. That is the kind of real-time public relations that can heighten the image of a company enormously. In Colorado and all other states, the employer can obtain great benefit by administering the return-to-work policy and the administration of workers’ compensation claims in a fair and enlightened manner.
Source: safety.blr.com, 7 steps for getting injured employees back on the job, No author, March 21, 2014