Benefits of a Modified Duties Program
It has been well established that the sooner a worker can safely return to work after an injury or illness, the better it is for all parties concerned especially the injured worker. The shorter the recovery, the faster a worker can return to normal, the less of an impact the injury has on a worker financially, physically and emotionally and the less of a disruption it has on the organization. It may seem like a simple equation but the finding the right balance returning to an injured worker back to work can be difficult and challenging. Bringing them back too soon runs the risk of relapse, recurrence or new injury, resulting in higher claims costs. Missing the window to safely reintegrate a worker back into the workforce can delay claim management and also increase costs.
An established Modified Duties Program is a proactive approach that can prevent unnecessary time loss and contain claims costs. Temporary modified duties can provide suitable, appropriate and meaningful work during the recovery process and can be offered in a wide variety of ways including:
- Reducing work hours
- Reducing work duties
- Changing tasks, functions, equipment or work area
- Gradual increasing work hours and duties as warranted
- Working from home
- Training co-workers
- Upgrading skills and certificates
The effects of temporary modified work can be realized in many ways for both workers and employers, specifically but not limited to, the following:
- Maintaining the work routine and stamina
- Allowing an increase in duties or hours in keeping with recovery
- Allowing the rehabilitation process to be applied to work duties
- Preventing de-conditioning
- Interacting with coworkers and the workplace
- Remaining engaged with the work environment
- Keeping connections with coworkers and superiors
- Reinforcing job security even if injured or ill
- Improving self-esteem and motivation
- Feeling productive even when not performing at 100%
- Continuing to contribute to the organization
- Reducing the need for temporary or additional workers
- Retaining experienced workers
- Allowing cross training between different positions
- Creating educational and upgrading opportunities
All work related injuries or illness do not require time loss from work:
When a worker is injured or becomes ill, they may not be able to carry out their regular duties however they may not be completely disabled from all types of employment. Without a Modified Duties Program in place, valuable time can be taken up trying to determine what, if any, suitable work can be performed. Having alternate meaningful work ready to offer at the onset of an injury or illness, can prevent or limit time loss from work.
There are circumstances where time loss is unavoidable:
The longer a worker remains off work, the more difficult it can be for them to return to employment– be it their pre-accident work or any form of work in general. A worker does not need to be ready to return to their regular duties in order to perform meaningful and productive work. Having an established Modified Duties Program provides the opportunity to bring a worker back to the workplace when they are able and potentially making a positive impact on their recovery.
Additional information about Modified Work Programs can be found on the WCB Alberta website, as well as a general tool kit for setting up modified duties. In order to be truly effective, a modified duties program should be tailored to individual organizations and their needs.
If you would like more information on how to design and implement a Modified Duties Program for your organization, you can connect with us on our Facebook page, through our Twitter account, on our LinkedIn profile and you can always email us at BCL.Calgary@bclconsulting.ca or at BCL.Edmonton@bclconsulting.ca.