"Rehabilitation – Getting back to work"
06-15 Rehabilitation – Getting back to work This GroupLine is an updated version of GroupLine 99-13. Great-West employs medical co-ordinators; they may be registered nurses or hold a degree in an allied health Short-term and long-term disability insurance plays a profession, such as occupational therapy or physiotherapy. valuable role in replacing income lost due to a disability. Ideally, a medical co-ordinator becomes involved during The best outcome, however, is the return of employees the acute phase of care, when he or she works with the to productive employment – either to their own jobs attending physician to confirm the employee’s diagnosis or to different ones. The goal of rehabilitation is to help and help expedite treatment, if necessary. The medical make that return to employability happen as early and co-ordinator may use Great-West’s network of specialists to as smoothly as possible, for both the employee and the accelerate confirmation of a diagnosis or treatment, or help employer. to implement a treatment program. Early return to work The medical co-ordinator may also help by securing an Returning to work is not as simple as it sounds. early return-to-work date that can be used to help the Depending on the length of time the employee has been employee ease back into a level of work he or she is off work, he or she may need considerable support to medically capable of handling. return to the workplace. The longer an employee is away from work, the more difficult it is to return to the same Vocational rehabilitation work environment. For more complicated situations, in which a return-to- work program is expected to last longer than six weeks, Studies show that an employee who has been on disability a rehabilitation consultant gets involved. Rehabilitation for six months has a 50 per cent chance of returning to consultants work to understand potential barriers to a work. After two years, the chance of returning drops return to work. They work with employees, employers and to less than five per cent. The longer a person remains medical practitioners to take the necessary steps in helping off work, the greater the possibility that other medical an employee become employable again. complications may develop. Great-West’s rehabilitation consultants are experienced in Holistic approach vocational rehabilitation counselling, nursing, social work, Great-West Life’s approach to disability is built around occupational therapy and other social service-related early intervention. A holistic process is used, including an disciplines. They understand the psychosocial effects of experienced, multi-disciplinary team that combines both disability and returning to work, and are knowledgeable in the medical and vocational aspects of rehabilitation. current return-to-work theory and facilitation of successful returns. Great-West’s 120 rehabilitation professionals are located in 25 communities across Canada, where they can develop In general, people are most comfortable with a return to a first-hand understanding of local job markets and their own work environment. Rehabilitation consultants community support services. follow a hierarchy that starts with trying to return an employee to the same job with the same employer (see Medical rehabilitation Hierarchy of return to work goals). The goal of medical rehabilitation is to establish a level of medical stability that will allow the employee to participate in the return-to-work process. Financial security Hierarchy of Return-to-Work Goals When faced with a disability, one of the main concerns of 1. Return employee to the same job with the an employee is to protect his or her income. Rehabilitation same employer. can be perceived as a threat to continuing receipt of 2. Return employee to the same (but modified) disability benefits. job with the same employer. Great-West offers incentives to alleviate this fear and give 3. Return employee to work in a different job that employees the confidence to work towards productive uses transferable skills with the same employer. employment: 4. Return employee to work at the same or a • An employee’s long-term disability (LTD) benefits modified job with a different employer. continue for the duration of the rehabilitation program, as long as the employee is an active participant. 5. Return employee to work in a different job that uses transferable skills with a different • If the rehabilitation program involves re-employment, employer. the LTD benefit period will be guaranteed at least until the end of the initial assessment period. 6. Return employee to work in a different job that requires extensive or prolonged training • If the rehabilitation program involves retraining, LTD with the same or different employer benefits are extended for up to six months following the date training is completed, to assist the employee 7. Return employee to work in a self-employed financially while he or she seeks employment. capacity. • If the employee finds new employment within six months of completing rehabilitation, his or her group At each successive step in the hierarchy, the return-to-work LTD insurance may be converted to an individual policy, program can become more time-consuming and costly, and without medical evidence, according to Great-West’s the employee may need additional support and assistance. underwriting criteria. The rehabilitation consultant works to ensure that costs are contained and that they are incurred only when it is As well, under Great-West’s standard contract, an employee considered cost-effective to resolve the claim. can keep any income earned from employment under a rehabilitation program, as long as his or her total income Employer’s role from all sources doesn’t exceed pre-disability earnings. The employer plays a decisive role in any return-to-work scenario. The ideal situation occurs when the employer Return to employability is an active participant in the process and has a policy in Even with rehabilitation support, there is no guarantee place that promotes the return to work of employees who that employees will find jobs. They will, however, be able to are injured or disabled. compete in the job market again. A successful return-to-work policy must accommodate In 2005, 5,023 LTD claims for rehabilitation were accepted a disabled or recovering employee. Easing an employee at Great-West. Among these claims, 73 per cent were back to work may include temporarily reassigning tasks, closed successfully, with 60 per cent of these claimants permanently modifying a job or helping to identify other returning to employment and the remainder being jobs within the organization that the employee can employable. perform. Great-West’s experience shows that, of those individuals It’s important to identify early in the process whether returning to employment, 90 per cent return to their pre- the employee will be able to return to his or her place disability employer and the other 10 per cent return to of employment, and work with the employer and jobs with a new employer. rehabilitation consultant to make the return successful. For more information Any employment issues unrelated to the medical aspects of the disability may also need to be addressed, in order to If you have questions about disability claims management, help eliminate barriers to the return-to-work process. please contact your benefits advisor or Great-West group representative. The employer’s return-to-work policy should take into account the possible impact of legislation that may apply This GroupLine is for general use and informational purposes only. in these situations, such as employment standards and It is not intended to be legal or tax advice. You should consult your professional advisors about your particular circumstances. human rights legislation. Employers should consult their legal advisors to determine what legislative issues may affect their return-to-work policy.