There are so many accidents and injuries that could occur in a workplace setting. When such accidents and injuries occur, it is important for the injured employee to think about workers’ compensation and personal injury claims to ensure that they are well compensated for their injuries. In addition to the usual workers' compensation, there are rehabilitation rights for the injured employees that employers should respect, which help the injured to remain active after the injury. Staying active helps a lot in pain reduction as well as preparing the employee's return to their usual activities as soon as the injuries are healed. The Workers Compensation Attorney Group in Long Beach can help you understand your rehabilitation rights as an injured worker as well as help you fight for these rights.
Understanding Rehabilitation Rights of Injured Workers
With respect to workers compensation, rehabilitation has two distinct meanings: there is the rehabilitative care or the physical therapy an employee gets to help them overcome the injuries sustained and also to get back their full functionality. There is also the vocational rehabilitation, which is offered in many states for injured employees who are unable to return to their previous employment. The latter is mainly provided at the expense of the employers’ workers compensation insurer.
Physical therapy is a type of treatment that is designed to help improve the way an injured employee is recovering as well as better their overall functioning after a work-related injury. Every employer needs to have an effective, cost-efficient and responsive workers compensation physical therapy program in place as it can be very helpful in more ways than one during an injured employee’s recovery process.
To the injured worker, the program can be helpful in:
- Restoring their normal range of motion that could have been lost to the injury
- Reduction of injury-related stiffness and pain
- Restoration of strength, endurance, functionality, and flexibility that have been lost to the injury
- Promotion of speedy recovery and rehabilitation that result from workplace injuries
- Promotion of complete recovery that could come from enough rest and sufficient medical care
- Reduction of risks of reinjuring oneself through the provision of patient education and physical conditioning
- Offering advice and any assistance the injured worker might need while they plan for the appropriate light duty they could take after the injury, or any transition they might need in their workplace. Injured employees might also require advice in case of a disability that will help with any workplace accommodations they might need during the recovering process
To the employer and the insurance company, an effective physical therapy program can be helpful in many ways:
- It can be used to increase workplace safety for all employees by educating both the injured and the uninjured employees on how they can prevent such injuries in the future
- It gives employers great peace of mind in knowing that they are providing the best and great quality support to their most valued employees during their recovery form work-related injuries
- The program can provide an objective assessment of the general condition, the physical functioning and the rehabilitation/recovery progress of the employee throughout their treatment. This way, both the employer and the employer are able to tell the way forward after full recovery on whether the employee will come back to work or not.
- It can also improve the retention of injured workers through better health and functional results. This way, employers are not forced to spend more money on hiring new employees and training them, while giving up on their experienced workers.
This is defined as the process in which an injured employee is allowed to rebuild their work skills as part of their recovery from an illness or a work-related injury. This is important in cases where the injured person is able to return to their previous job after full recovery. If the injury sustained results to a long-term or permanent disability, it is usually important for that employee to be able to retrain for a new type of job.
In California, this is necessary to ensure that the injured person remains productive for the rest of their lives. In that case, the workers' compensation insurer, the employer and/or the state will be involved to ensure that the employee’s vocational rehabilitation services are fully paid for, as part of the employee compensation benefits.
If therefore you or your loved one has been injured on the job, or they became sick, it is important to seek the help of a workers compensation attorney immediately so as to learn about all the types of workers compensation benefits the employee is entitled to and whether or not they include vocational rehabilitation.
Types of Services an Employee May Get Through Vocational Rehabilitation
This is a rehabilitation method that is aimed at teaching the injured employee skills, competencies and knowledge that is needed for them to perform at their specific job. This type of rehabilitation is given to employees who are going back to their job after recovering fully from an injury or sickness. During the training, the injured employee is exposed to a similar environment to which he/she will be expected to practice the acquired skills and knowledge. With that kind of training, the employee is ready to get reintegrated back to their workplace as soon as they are fully recovered.
On-the-job training is a great way for a company to retain its most experienced workers. Even with the best skills and experience, staying at home for an extended period of time may make an employee less productive. Besides, an injury may cause an employee to become dispirited, something that could make them want to leave the company. Offering the training is a way for the employer to encourage the employee to return to their positions in the company as soon as they are physically able to do so.
Bringing back the injured employees in the company is also a great way for the employer to reduce employee turnover. This way, the company is saved on the costs of hiring new employees and going through the entire process once again.
Analysis and testing of transferable skills
This is done to determine the positions an injured employee may fill if the position they once held in the company no longer existed in the business or in the local job market. This is also done to determine the best position an injured employee would take if they are no longer able to perform in the last position they held in the company because of the injury.
During the testing and analysis, all the skills, experiences, interests and knowledge that the employee had acquired in their previous position will be considered, then a recommendation for job opportunities that match with all those experiences and skills.
The tests and analysis results will help identify any short or long-term job opportunities based on the skills and work history of the employee. They will also help identify any on-the-job training requirements and any short-courses that the employee could benefit from to get them ready for redeployment.
Career and job application services
These are services meant for injured employers who might have to find a job after recovering from the injury. In some cases, the employee may not want to go back to their previous job, and so, they may need help in placing job applications and formulating their resume to increase their chances of finding a new job. While it may seem that an employee is capable of doing this all by themselves, an employer owes this to their injured employees. Again, there are several things that an employee who has been working for the company for so long may not be aware of, which may make their efforts to find a new job unsuccessful in a changing career world. The career and job application services will, for instance, help you determine the careers you are fully qualified for, to avoid applying for jobs that you are underqualified or overqualified. The services will also help you explain the gaps in your CV as well as come up with an excellent format for your CV among other things.
Workplace injuries come with many challenges that could lead to depression if proper support is not offered to the injured employee. An employee who has been doing very well or was at the peak of their career can suffer from stress and depression when an injury or illness causes them to take a break from their job. A person who is already used to working every day may not find it easier staying at home or in the hospital for a long time to recover from an injury.
Counseling is important as it helps the injured employee to feel better and also to look forward to the time they will be going back to work. This helps a lot with their recovery. Counseling will also help them remove any negative feelings they might have towards their work which may prevent them from being as productive as they were before the injury.
Employees who might need help with searching for a new job can benefit from job-search assistance services under the vocational rehabilitation services for injured workers. For a person who has not applied for a job in a long time, an injured employee may not be familiar with the current requirements in the job market. Any advice they could get as well as assistance in writing a resume and cover letter would help a lot in ensuring that they can easily find a job after recovering.
This kind of assessment is meant to help identify risks an injured employee may be facing when they finally go back to work. The assessment focuses mainly on how the employees work, so as to determine if repetitive tasks they might perform might cause strains that could result to more on-the-job injuries or if there are any improper workplace settings and tools that could result to more injuries similar to or different from what they had previously suffered.
With this assessment, injuries on-the-job can be reduced by a greater percentage, increasing the productivity of all employees. It is also a great way of assuring the injured employee that moving forward, they will be safe in their workplace.
Education and tuition payments for retraining
If the employee is not comfortable going back to their old job, retraining is a great way of keeping him/her in the company, but in a different working environment. Retraining imparts the injured employee with a new set of skills that would enable them to do something different from what they were previously doing.
Retraining comes with additional costs on the injured employee, but under rehabilitation compensation for injured workers, the injured employee can receive any training on any course they want to take, which will enable them to get a job with a similar status to the one they had before the injury.
Reasonable accommodation assistance as per Americans with Disabilities Act
These are changes or assistance given to an injured employee to enable them to do their best in their job despite suffering a disability. As per the provisions in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are expected to provide any reasonable accommodation to every qualified employee that is disabled, unless if doing so will pose a risk or become a hardship to the employee. This Act is meant to prevent any discrimination that could occur in a workplace based on employee’s disabilities. Under the act, an employer may offer to change the workplace or the job of an injured employee to allow them to perform their duties easily, comfortably and effectively even with their disability.
Examples of accommodations that are available for injured employees include:
- Change of the existing facilities to ensure that they are usable by disabled persons. An employer can, for instance, change the height of equipment or desks, install telecommunications for those that are deaf and install computer screen magnifiers for those that cannot see well.
- An employer could restructure jobs too, for instance by allowing the injured employee a few hours off every week to allow them to receive their weekly medical care.
- The employee could be allowed a more reasonable amount of unpaid leave to enable them to seek proper medical treatment.
- Readers and interpreters could be hired as well, to assist the employee in the performance of his/her duties. A temporary workplace expert could be hired too, to help with the training.
- The company can transfer the injured employee to the same job but in a different location that will enable them to obtain better medical care.
Other services an employee can get through vocational rehabilitation include:
- Labor-market surveys
- Interview coaching
- Wage-assessment evaluations
- Job analyses
Things to Note about Both Physical Therapy and Vocation Rehabilitation for Injured Workers
It can be requested by the employer, in which case, the injured employee is expected to comply with the requirements
It can also be requested by the injured employee if a rehabilitation specialist or a physician feels that the rehabilitation would be beneficial to the employee. In this case, the employee will request his/her employer to pay for the services, which will prepare their return to the job. If even after rehabilitation, you will not be able to return to your previous employment, the rehabilitation should help you prepare for a job that will be easy to manage with your condition.
There is a wide range of valuable services that the rehabilitation program for injured employees will offer, though the services vary greatly from one person to the other. An employee could, for instance, benefit from testing and skills analysis, accommodations, job site assessments, assistive devices and technology, vocation evaluation and counseling, training, education, job placement among other services as explained above.
Everyone that is involved in the program will benefit from it. Other than helping you return to your job successfully, the program can also help fix some of the compensation issues you might be having, which were benefitting the employer and the insurance company more than the employees.
Employee Responsibility in Connection with Rehabilitation for Injured Workers
Since every rehabilitation program for injured employees is meant to benefit every party involved, both employees and the employer have separate responsibilities in ensuring that the program is a success.
The employee is, for instance, expected to accept the rehabilitation program and anything extra it is offering in addition to the usual workers' compensation benefits. With this responsibility comes a requirement for the employee to cooperate with the efforts the employer has put in the program to ensure that the employee is returning to suitable employment after their full recovery. The employee is expected to make a request for vocation rehabilitation any time within a period of 15 years from the day they got injured.
Note that in California, failure to cooperate with the rehabilitation providers can result in the insurance provider reducing or even suspending all your wage loss benefits for the period of time you will remain uncooperative.
Employers and the workers' compensation insurance companies have both regulatory and statutory responsibilities that relate to vocational rehabilitation for the injured employees. The state of California, for example, requires every employer to offer free rehabilitation counseling to any employee that is injured at their workplace especially those who lose a considerable amount of time from work. The offer for such services should be made within a given period of time after the injury has occurred. The requirements for such services vary though, depending on the type of injury and the time period the injured worker will take away from work.
There are other instances when an employer is required to cater for certain needs of the injured employee, such as their living expenses, payment of tuition fees for retraining, child care expenses and wage loss benefits among others during the time the injured employee will be taking part in the rehabilitation program. In such instances, the employer must inform the injured employee about the services that are available in their company’s rehabilitation program even before the employee asks for it.
Frequently Asked Questions about Rehabilitation Rights for Injured Employees
How can an employee get into contact with a rehabilitation provider?
If your doctor feels that you need rehabilitation to be able to get back to work, he/she will call a rehabilitation provider directly. You could also ask your doctor to call a rehabilitation provider, but if you are on a claim, you are entitled to the rehabilitation assistance, and so, you need to speak directly to your employer.
How can a rehabilitation provider help an employee get back to work?
There are so many services a rehabilitation provider offers but it all depends on the nature of your injury and claim. The rehabilitation provider will first assess you, in their rooms and in your workplace, to determine the main barriers. Once this is established, the provider will team up with your employer and the treating practitioners to come up with a graded return to work plan that seems more sustainable.
Can an employee be required to go back to work before they are ready?
No. No one can force an injured employee to go back to work before they are able to. A medical report will be required to show that you are fully recovered, and the employee must also be mentally ready to return to work. However, injured employees are encouraged to return to work as early as they can since working will generally help with their physical, mental and general wellbeing. Again, an early return to work can significantly reduce the risks of a long-term disability.
Find a Workers Compensation Attorney Near Me
Getting injured at work is one of the hardest things an employee can go through. However, it helps to know that there are workers’ compensation plans that one can benefit from, as well as rehabilitation that can help you get back to your feet after recovery. The laws regarding rehabilitation rights for injured workers can be a little confusing, but with the help of an experienced attorney at The Workers Compensation Attorney Group, all your questions can be well answered, and you can get support in getting the exact rehabilitation that you deserve. Call our Long Beach workers compensation lawyer at 714-716-5933 if you are in Long Beach, CA, and let us guide you through the process.