Disabilities can be work-related, or they may occur away from work or be congenital. Disability management refers to the steps you take to assure that an employee can return to work as soon as possible. An important piece of case management is preventing work-related injuries by identifying and correcting potential hazards, from chemicals to poorly designed workstations (see also Chapter 17, Health and Safety).
If a work-related injury does occur, handling the case appropriately can encourage a prompt recovery, decrease the chance of delayed benefits, save money, and allow the unit to continue to get the work done. For non-work-related disabilities, it's also important to complete the forms sent to the department by the Benefits Unit on time and to pay the employee's sick leave correctly.
Issues for managers include:
- Taking steps to prevent injuries from occurring at work
- Assuring that an employee receives medical treatment if an injury occurs
- Knowing how the injured employee is doing and whether the department can help with any problems or concerns
- Facilitating the payment of benefits and salary
- Planning ahead to allow for a longer-than-expected period of disability
- Providing modified work when available