January 20, 2016
Benefits of a more formal approach to employee policies
For organizations of all sizes, processes that are essential for driving business goals should be measured and managed following established guidelines. Developing an employee policy manual to cover issues as basic as punctuality and attendance can help ensure clarity, maintain order and shape outcomes. While there can be reasonable arguments supporting flexibility, a great deal of ambiguity and frustration for both employees and managers can be avoided simply by mapping out the requirements and potential consequences. This is extremely evident in workers’ compensation. Even for employers with a sophisticated employee management infrastructure, it can sometimes seem as if an employee with a claim is immune to company policies – and that cannot be farther from reality.
Workers’ compensation – “red flag” prevention
There are various events we consider to be red flags because they often signal that a claim and/or injured employee is becoming difficult to manage. We encourage employers to establish – and firmly enforce – policies governing safety practices, timely reporting of injuries and incidents, communication of medical status and developments, and cooperation with modified duty accommodations. While the direction of a claim is often subject to the medical diagnoses, treatment, and the decisions of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC)/Industrial Commission, the nature of the employer/employee relationship should not depend on these outside factors. Managing employees based on a clear set of policies frees an employer to conduct employee-related business in a manner that is best for the organization.
Policy development through transitional work grants
One easy way to establish straightforward, productive policies related to workers’ compensation is to take advantage of the BWC’s Transitional Work Grant program. While the program provides funding to help employers build formal return-to-work programs for injured employees, it can also address basic expectations related to employee communication and engagement. An experienced transitional work developer will write policies, establish procedures and arrange for resources that facilitate a comprehensive return-to-work program. CompManagement Health Systems (CHS) has built relationships with a network of developers that we trust to provide thorough and thoughtful programs that address the unique needs of employers.
Customized for specific needs
Workers’ compensation policies including a transitional work program (TWP) will not be the same for every employer. A productive TWP should be built around unique operational considerations as well as existing benefit programs so that it supports business priorities. While a TWP provides a clear message that helping employees recover and return to work are priorities for the employer, it also outlines the responsibilities of the employee, the supervisor, the medical providers and the employer or human resources team. The framework of a TWP can steer a claim toward closure and help the employee return to work. It also establishes behavioral boundaries and provides tools to deal with any non-compliance issues. Just like any other employee policy, a lack of cooperation with a TWP should be handled with the appropriate disciplinary action. For example, failure to report an incident or injury in a timely manner or refusing to comply with work restrictions established by the physician are not only matters that complicate a workers’ compensation claim, they should also be considered personnel issues that must be addressed as a matter of employment.
Creating a plan to meet your needs
Your CHS team can help you develop transitional work options, communicate with treating physicians on modified duty positions, manage physical limitations during the recovery process, and explore the implications that medical treatment may have on the return-to-work plan for the employee.
For questions, please contact CHS at ClientServices@chsmco.com or call 888-247-7799 x 65606.