In preparing for an employee's return to work following a period of disability, you should:
Request in writing, about two weeks prior to the expected return date, that the employee provide either:
- a full release slip from the doctor OR
- a slip from the doctor indicating that the disability is being extended to a specific date OR
- a slip from the doctor stating that the employee will have restrictions on his/her return to work (this note should indicate the nature and duration of the restrictions)
If the employee returns to work part-time for medical reasons related to the medical leave or if the employee may lose time for doctor's appointments or therapy, he/she may be eligible for supplemental benefits from either ORS for work-related injuries or Liberty Mutual (UC's disability carrier) for non-work-related injuries. The following steps will ensure that the employee is properly compensated:
For work-related injuries, report the return to work to a Workers' Compensation Benefits Assistant and indicate whether the return is to less than full time. If the schedule is to be consistent (i.e., four hours per day for three weeks), ORS will calculate benefits on a wage loss basis.
If the employee is returning from a non-work-related injury or illness, he/she may be eligible for supplemental benefits from Liberty Mutual. For example, if an employee returns half-time due to a medical restriction, Liberty Mutual may make up the difference to the 70% maximum benefit level. This benefit is called Rehabilitation Status and should be requested in writing to Liberty Mutual. Contact the Benefits Unit for more information.
Modified Work Program
- Obtain a medical slip from the employee that outlines the restrictions and their duration. If you can't evaluate for reasonable accommodation with the information provided or if no length of time is given for the restrictions, contact the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor assigned to your control unit. The counselor will contact the doctor directly for further information. If the employee was seen by a physician at Occupational Health Service, you may call directly for information. Determine whether the restrictions can be accommodated in either the previously held or an alternative position.
- Contact the employee with your assessment and, if you can accommodate, set a return-to-work date. If the restrictions involve a part-time schedule, set a work schedule. Always acknowledge receipt of the restrictions in writing and outline in writing what accommodations you are able to make. For example, if the accommodation involves a change in duties, outline what the employee will be doing. If the duration of the restrictions is two months and you can only accommodate for one month, specify that in the letter and indicate that you will re-evaluate the possibility of an extension at the end of that month.
- Send a copy of the letter to the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor so that the modified work can be documented and included in annual program evaluations.
- Request that the employee provide further medical documentation at the end of the modified work period, indicating that he/she is released to full duty or that the restrictions need to be continued and/or modified.
- The department can request an independent medical opinion. The need for this should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The department is responsible for paying the cost of the evaluation and report.