To negotiate a worker’s return to suitable temporary modified work or permanent accommodation, monitor the worker’s progress in their modified work and determine and issue appropriate benefits and services.
Injured workers and their employers have a duty to cooperate in the modified work and return to work negotiations. These discussions lay the groundwork for the worker’s return to work by all parties actively participating in the discussions about modified work, exploring ideas for modified duties, and to having a modified work plan in place at the earliest opportunity. Both parties follow and support the modified work plan. In some cases, the plan may involve the worker participating in a medical treatment program and modified duties at the same time (that is, a hybrid return-to-work program). Collectively, the worker, the employer and the decision maker work to identify solutions to difficulties as they arise. When the worker is not able to return to their pre-accident work because they have permanent work restrictions, all parties actively work together to find an alternate suitable position to keep the worker employed and minimize their loss of income.
The decision maker contacts the worker and employer to gather information about their recovery and modified work options. If modified work has been offered by the employer, the decision maker collects details (such as the specifics of the modified work duties and a signed modified work agreement) for the claim file and determines what supports and benefits the worker will require.
The decision maker’s role is to ensure the modified work discussion continues and progresses until an outcome is reached. This may involve several conversations as well as action items that the worker and employer need to complete to achieve a suitable modified work outcome. When the worker begins modified work the decision maker monitors the worker’s recovery and progress, provides supports and determines benefits as appropriate. Because the worker’s recovery is dynamic, this process is continuous and negotiation of changing modified work duties (and corresponding supports and benefits) may occur multiple times as the worker recovers from the injury.
If the modified work program ends before the worker is medically able to return to their pre-accident job, the decision maker determines what other supports and benefits may be appropriate, including re employment services.
Modified work is one of the most effective ways to support the recovery of an injured worker and provides many benefits to both the worker and employer. It helps workers return to work during their recovery, contribute to the workplace and maintain relationships with their employer and coworkers. It also reduces claims costs for employers, which can have a positive impact on their premiums.
Decision makers work closely with the worker and employer to explore and negotiate modified work, accessing all available WCB resources to assist with developing a modified return to work plan. They also maintain regular contact to monitor the modified work and will help resolve any concerns or barriers that may arise.
All employers and workers have a duty to cooperate in the modified work process regardless of the date of accident. For more details see Duty to Cooperate.
For work-related accidents that occurred on or after September 1, 2018, up to and including March 31, 2021, the date of accident employer has an obligation to offer the worker suitable work when specific criteria are met.
For more details on the obligation to reinstate go to Obligation to Reinstate.