Workers’ Compensation / Return to Work

Workers’ Compensation/Return to Work Documents

University of Mary Washington Policy

I. Scope

The policies and procedures provided herein apply to teaching faculty, administrative faculty, classified and wage employees of the University of Mary Washington. This policy shall apply to employees who are restricted in the performance of their essential functions due to compensable work-related injuries and non-occupational injuries/illnesses.

II. Policy Statement

The University of Mary Washington believes it is in the best interest of the agency and its employees to facilitate the expedient return of staff to full duty after they have been absent due to injury, illness, or other medical condition.  The University of Mary Washington’s Return-to-Work program encompasses a wide range of coordinated activities to help an employee transition back to work from an extended injury, illness or medical condition.  Since our employees are our most valuable resource, the University of Mary Washington supervisors will actively work with each employee’s medical treatment plan and implement a Transitional Employment Plan where possible to enable the employee to return to work while he/she continues a progressive transition to full work activities.  The University of Mary Washington will identify Transitional Duty based on agency need and the ability of the employee to perform the duties.  Transitional Duty may be limited; availability cannot be guaranteed.

This policy shall be applied in situations when a full-time faculty or classified employee or part-time classified employee is restricted in the performance of their regular duties due to personal injury, illness or medical condition or due to a work-related accident/injury.  This policy may, at supervisor discretion, be applied in situations when an adjunct faculty or hourly/wage employee is restricted in the performance of their regular duties due to personal injury, illness or medical condition or due to a work-related accident/injury.  The University of Mary Washington provides for the use of transitional duty assignments and shall, to the extent possible, assist employees by temporarily modifying work assignments, duties or arranging for a temporary transfer until the employee is medically released to resume regular duties.

III. Definitions

A. Return-to-Work Co-Coordinators (RTWC): Designated agency staff who will act as a primary contact to the Workers’ Compensation Program and will facilitate the return-to-work program.

B. Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI): Point at which employee has recovered and no further progress is anticipated.

C. Transitional Duty: A temporary situation when an employee returns from a personal or work-related injury or illness to medically restricted or modified duties. Duties assigned can be those identified in the employee’s current job description with restrictions or another assignment.  The duration of this assignment is limited to 90 days or less, but could be extended on a case-by-case basis.  The assignment can include tasks from the employee’s current Employee Work Profile (modified) or other work assignments based on the work unit’s business need, the employee’s ability to perform, and the health care provider’s certification approving these transitional duties.  Transitional Duty may be full, part-time or intermittent, based on the work unit’s business needs.

D. Transitional Employment Plan (TEP): Documentation of the duties the employee will perform during the transitional duty period.

E. Transitional Employment Team: Return-to-Work Coordinators (RTWC), Supervisor, and Safety Director (SD) as needed.  Staff designated to develop transitional duty assignments for employees.

F. Virginia Sickness and Disability Program (VSDP): Program administered by the Virginia Retirement System which provides employees with income replacement during periods of short and long-term disabilities.

G. Workers’ Compensation Program (WCP): Program administered by the Department of Human Resource Management for state employees in accordance with § 65.2 Code of Virginia.

IV. Procedures

A. Employee must immediately notify his/her supervisor of work-related injury in accordance with the steps outlined below.

B. Employee’s immediate supervisor will complete the Employer’s Accident Report (EAR) and Panel Physicians Form (PPF) and submit both forms to RTWC.

C. RTWC will review the EAR and PPF and submit both forms to the WCP within 10 days of the injury.

D. RTWC (and supervisor as needed) will communicate with the attending physician to discuss return-to-work options, to include the ability to provide transitional duty.

E. In the case of a non-occupational injury/illness, the employee will contact the VSDP program. The VSDP program will work with the agency return-to-work coordinator, supervisor and employee to facilitate a return-to-work.

***RETURN-TO-WORK PROCESS BELOW WILL APPLY FOR ALL OCCUPATIONAL/NON-OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES/ILLNESSES***

F. The RTWC will submit the position description and physical demands if necessary, including documentation detailing the Return-to-Work Program to the attending physician within 3 days if applicable.

G. If the employee is released to return to work and can perform the essential functions of their pre-injury position, they will give the release to the supervisor and the RTWC who will coordinate a start date to report to work. The RTWC will submit a supplemental report indicating this return to work to the WCP and BA also will notify VSDP if applicable of the employee’s return to work.

H. If the employee is released to work with restrictions, the RTWC in coordination with the supervisor will review the restrictions set forth by the attending physician and will make a decision if the agency is able to provide transitional duty for the employee. Transitional duty must meet the agency’s staffing needs and accommodate the employee’s medical restrictions while taking into consideration the welfare and safety of the employee and their co-workers.

I. The supervisor will schedule an initial return-to-work meeting within 48 hours with the injured/ill employee and the RTWC and BA to coordinate the return to work. They will meet, discuss and develop transitional duties, which will focus on the employee’s abilities, comply with the employee’s medical restrictions, and the University of Mary Washington’s mission.

J. If the employee cannot return to work in their pre-injury department, the RTWC will attempt to coordinate a return-to-work within another department.

K. If transitional duty is not possible for an employee within the agency or the employee is not released to work, the supervisor with the RTWC will maintain communication with the employee, WCP, VSDP (if applicable), and the attending physician in order to obtain the employee’s prognosis for recovery and the employee’s functional capacity within on a monthly basis.

L. The RTWC and/or BA will complete the TEP, review it with the injured/ill employee and supervisor, obtain their signatures, and then submit it to the attending physician for approval.

M. The RTWC and/or BA will submit a supplemental report indicating this return-to-work to the WCP and also will notify VSDP if applicable of the employee’s return to work.

N. During transitional duty, the RTWC will meet with the injured/ill employee to discuss concerns and to evaluate progress every 30 days. This duty can be altered, upgraded, or changed in a manner consistent with medical restrictions and in accordance with an individual’s improved condition.

O. The RTWC and/or BA in coordination wi
th the supervisor may amend the transitional duty should the employee demonstrate improvement or regression.  Any amendments must be resubmitted to the attending physician for approval and a copy forwarded to WCP and VSDP, if applicable.

P. Transitional duty shall be made available to those employees who are expected to return to their pre-injury position and may not normally exceed 90 days. At the conclusion of 90 days, the supervisor in consultation with Human Resources may terminate the transitional duty assignment. If it is determined that the employee has long-term restrictions that result in his/her inability to perform the essential functions of his/her primary position, the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other applicable laws will be applied to determine suitability for employment.

V. Responsibilities

Supervisor: Communication on a weekly basis with the employee, ensure timely responses from employee and department to inquiries from the RTWC, recordkeeping to include leave and restrictions, assist in development of transitional duty, identify tasks employee can/cannot perform, reevaluate TEP every 30 workdays up to the 90 day maximum, and discuss work plan with the employee when he/she returns to full duty.

Assistant Vice President for Human Resources: Policy and procedure oversight.

Benefits Administrator: Technical guidance, administration, communications and training, and the assignment and supervision of Return-to-Work Coordinator.

Return-to-Work Co-Coordinators: Policy and procedure execution and transitional duty assignment compliance, routine technical guidance and assistance to supervisor and employees, communication and training coordination, and employee’s file and documentation maintenance.

Safety Director: Coordination with agency policies and procedures concerning Workplace Safety and Health.

VI. References

  • Governor’s Executive Order 52 (99)
  • Governor’s Executive Order 94 (05)
  • § 65.2 Code of Virginia

VII. Review Date

This policy shall be reviewed and revised accordingly by April 1, 2007.