By Dr. Mary Stergiou-Kita is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto.
Three guiding principles
You and your healthcare team have decided that you are ready to return to work. How should you do this? How can you all work together to develop an effective return to work plan?
There are 3 guiding principles that you, your healthcare team, employer and insurance company should consider:
Guiding principle #1: Return to work plans should be individual
Guiding principle #2: Return to work plans should have feedback by all involved
Return to work plans should incorporate feedback from all parties, consider all their needs and ensure each party understands their responsibilities in the return to work process.
Guiding principle #3: Return to work plans need to be flexible
While the plan must give the return to work process some structure, it must also be flexible enough to respond to ongoing changes in the employee’s needs.
Experts have identified the following elements that should be included in a return to work plan:
- Anticipated start and end dates.
- Number of days per week and hours per day that the employee will be expected to work.
- Essential tasks and duties that the employee will be expected to complete.
- Anticipated schedule for increasing work hours and resuming work tasks.
- Medical restrictions or limitations (if any) that must be adhered to, and how long these restrictions or limitations should continue.
- Workplace accommodations that will need to be implemented and reasons why they are required.
- How (and by whom) an employee’s progress will be monitored, recorded and shared and how return-to-work and accommodation plans will be modified as required.
Using the tool below, you will learn the 6 steps and at the same time generate a useful return to work plan.