Return-to-Work is essential to the process of getting employees who have been injured in the workplace back to safe, productive work as soon as they are medically able. The key to the success of the program is to have both employers and employees actively engaged in creating work opportunities that can accommodate any duty restrictions the employee may have received from their medical provider.
After every visit to their medical provider, injured employees will receive a Patient Visit Summary that will either release them to regular duty, release them to modified duty with restrictions, or excuse them from work until a predetermined follow-up visit. Employees are expected to provide a copy of these Patient Visit Summaries and/or notes from their medical provider to their supervisor.
At Utah State University, our ultimate goal is to return injured employees to their original jobs. If an injured employee is unable to perform all the tasks of the original job due to restrictions from their medical provider, supervisors and departments are expected to provide modified duty for the injured employee that will comply with those restrictions.
- Example: An employee who has injured their back lifting is likely to be cleared by their medical provider to return to work with a restriction stating the employee should not lift more than a certain weight. A date for a follow-up visit with the medical provider to reevaluate that restriction will be indicated on the patient visit summary.
- Some restrictions, such as limiting lifting or standing/sitting for period of time, are relatively easy to accommodate; others not as much. Supervisors and departments are expected to be actively engaged in providing modified duty opportunities, even if those opportunities involve duties that would not typically be performed by the injured employee.
Supervisors are expected to maintain regular contact with injured employees, whether the employee is off work or performing modified duties because of restrictions. Supervisors should make sure they know when the injured employee has follow-up and/or treatment appointments and allow injured employees to attend those appointments as part of the employee’s regular work hours.
Department heads and directors are expected to support supervisors by providing modified duty opportunities for injured employees. They should be aware that modified duty does not always need to be in the injured employees primary work area. It is acceptable to provide modified duty across work areas, departments, and even colleges.
Deans and vice president likewise are expected to support department heads and directors in the return-to-work process so employees who have restrictions but can return to the workplace have meaningful, protective work to do while recovering from their workplace injury.