Employer's responsibilities in the Return to Work process
As an employer, what are my responsibilities in the Return to Work process?
As the employer of an injured worker, you are first required to report the injury to the WSIB and then:
1. Contact the worker as soon as possible after the injury/illness.
2. Maintain appropriate communication with the worker throughout their recovery and return to work. Where possible, establish a schedule of regular contact with your worker.
3. Attempt to provide suitable work. This is work that:
- Is safe
- Is productive
- Is within your worker’s functional abilities
- Restores your worker’s pre-injury earnings as closely as possible
4. Provide the WSIB with any information requested concerning your worker’s work reintegration
5. Offer to re-employ your worker if he or she is functionally able to perform the essential duties of the pre-injury job or suitable work. A re-employment obligation exists if:
- Your worker has been 'unable to work' as a result of their work-related injury or illness
- Your worker has been continuously employed by you for at least one year before the date of injury, and
- You regularly employ 20 or more workers
Your obligation to re-employ the worker remains in effect until the earliest of:
- The second anniversary of the date of the work-related injury or illness
- One year after the worker is declared fit to perform the essential duties of his or her pre-injury job or other suitable work, or
- When the worker reaches age 65
Note: Different re-employment rules apply to Construction Sector employers. If you are an employer in the Construction Industry, see policy 19-05-02, Re-employment Obligations in the Construction Industry - Threshold, Duration and Specific Employer Requirements, or contact your Account Specialist or your worker’s Case Manager for more information.
6. Notify the WSIB of any disputes or disagreements concerning your worker’s reintegration.
7. Co-operate in the Work Reintegration process.
In cases where you refuse to co-operate in the Work Reintegration process, the WSIB may levy a penalty for non-co-operation.
For more information read: What are the penalties for non-co-operation in the Work Reintegration process for employers?
Functional Abilities Form
In cases where you and your worker are planning return to suitable work, functional abilities information will be required. The Functional Abilities Form for Early and Safe Return to Work (370k, pdf) is a tool that provides you with information about your worker’s physical condition and their ability to work. A request for the form should only be initiated by you or your worker and, ideally, should only be completed when the worker is functionally able to return to work.
The worker’s health professional will complete the form. This could include a doctor, physiotherapist, or other licensed health care professional. The information gathered highlights what a worker can do after a workplace injury or illness. The form allows the health professional to identify your worker’s ability to walk, stand, sit, lift and perform other work-related tasks. You and your worker can then use this information to plan return to work by identifying jobs that the worker is capable of performing, within the limits set out in the FAF.
For more on the FAF, please review the FAF Fact Sheet (158k, pdf) and the Guide to Completing the FAF (239k, pdf).
What are my worker’s responsibilities in the Work Reintegration process?
If your worker is injured or ill, he or she is required to:
1. Get proper medical treatment immediately following a work-related injury or illness and follow the recommendations of their health professional.
2. Report the injury or illness to you as soon as possible.
3. Contact you as soon as possible after seeking initial health-care treatment to begin discussing potential return to work.
4. Stay in contact with you throughout their recovery and provide you with information on their progress and status. Where possible, establish a schedule of regular contact with you.
5. Work with you to identify suitable work opportunities. This is work that:
- Is safe
- Is productive
- Is within their functional abilities
- Restores their pre-injury earnings as closely as possible.
6. Provide the WSIB with any relevant information requested concerning their return to work.
7. Report any significant changes in their medical condition or income that may affect their benefits (also known as a “material change”). He or she must report any material change in their status within 10 days of the change occurring. Examples include:
- Returning to work
- Beginning to receive other income or government benefits
- Significant changes in their medical condition.
8. Notify the WSIB of any disputes or disagreements concerning their return to work.
9. Co-operate in the Work Reintegration process.
If your worker refuses to co-operate in fulfilling their responsibilities, the WSIB could make a finding of non-co-operation, which could result in their benefits being affected.
For example, benefits can be reduced, suspended or discontinued.
What are the WSIB’s responsibilities in the Work Reintegration process?
The WSIB has a number of responsibilities in the Work Reintegration process. It will:
1. Provide you and your worker with timely information to help you understand:
- What to expect through the Work Reintegration process
- What you and your worker are expected to do
- Your rights and responsibilities
- Who to ask for help.
2. Monitor the activity, progress and co-operation between you and your worker.
3. Obtain and clarify information on your worker’s functional abilities.
4. Help resolve difficulties and disputes through the process.
5. Assess the need for Work Reintegration services if you and your worker have been unsuccessful in arranging a return to suitable and available work.
6. Provide Return to Work and/or Work Transition Services to help you and your worker through the Work Reintegration process. This could include worksite visits that involve ergonomic assessments and functional work capacity assessments.
An ergonomic assessment is conducted when a specific job has been identified for a worker that is considered potentially suitable. It involves an assessment of the workplace and the workstation to determine further modifications that may be required to prevent a new injury or re-injury.
A functional work capacity assessment looks at the physical functioning levels of the worker and compares them to the physical demands of the work. The assessment will provide recommendations on job suitability, including modifications, if required.
7. Make decisions on all claim-related and compliance issues.