When injured workers express interest in returning to the workplace, their employers can provide support throughout the transition. Depending on the significance of their injuries, workers may lack the skills or physical capabilities to resume their former job.
Employers can provide encouragement and guidance as they help injured workers assess transferrable skills and identify promising job opportunities.
Americans with Disabilities Act
Injured workers may feel intimidated about returning to work, especially if their condition is substantially different than before. Fortunately, there are laws to protect and support injured and disabled workers. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Americans with Disabilities Act provides employers with instructions regarding the treatment of disabled job applicants and workers.
The ADA encourages lawful and fair treatment of disabled workers in regards to hiring, firing and training. The law also protects workers from discriminatory practices related to compensation, benefits and discipline.
Upon their return to work, injured workers may need accommodations to enable them to do their work safely and effectively. According to the Department of Labor, depending on the workers’ needs, employers may consider the following job modifications:
- Company-provided transportation
- Adjustments to personal workstations
- Implementation of assistive technology
Injured workers deserve to participate in decisions about their return to work. Collaboration between employers and workers may involve discussions about alternative job responsibilities or even temporary reassignments. Solutions such as these can allow workers to continue their recovery and also get back to work as soon as possible. If they can never return to their former job, injured workers may consider vocational rehabilitation to help them find a job that will meet their needs.