One of the most common complaints injured workers have about their experiences after a work-related accident is that the employers forget about them. Employees who feel valued are more likely to return to work. The longer a person stays home from work, the less likely they are to return at all. This, of course, increases the cost of the workers’ compensation (“WC”) claim, but it also increases intangible costs such as the time and effort required to recruit, hire and train a new employee. Follow these steps, and you will probably see increases in more desirable areas, such as employee loyalty and manageable claims.
- Provide any necessary medical care. Immediately after becoming aware of an accident, prioritized the employee’s health and safety, as well as anyone else who might be at risk of a similar accident.
- Investigate the scene. Once the injured worker and others in the area are secure, take photographs of the scene and equipment involved, as well as statements from any witnesses. These are infinitely valuable to the claims representative and defense counsel, who will be administering the related WC claim. They assist in making quick decisions about accepting or denying the claim, and this speeds the employee’s return to work. (“RTW”). (If your response is, “I don’t want him to return”, we have another issue. A workplace injury is not an opportunity to remove an underperforming employee from your unit. You should have been addressing that more directly before the accident. Trying to do that now could result in an additional claim for WC discrimination.)
- File the required C-2, C-11 and C-240 forms with the Board. Failure to do so can result in penalties, and delays in providing evidence cause delays in the RTW. The longer these delays are, the more likely you are to create a disgruntled employee who fails to RTW or pollutes the work morale when he does.
- Call the employee weekly just to remind him (or her) that he is valued, and you look forward to his return. Do not discuss the claim or give any opinions on it. However, provide any requested forms, company policies, or other information necessary for the RTW or other benefits.
- Welcome him back. Review any changes that occurred during his absence, as well as how the accident occurred and how to stay safe. There’s no need to be angry or feel guilty. Even the best safety programs are not 100% effective, and it will be more effective to focus on what you can prevent going forward, rather than what “shouldn’t have” happened in the past.
Nance L. Schick, Esq. is a New York City attorney and mediator who focuses on keeping people out of court and building their conflict resolution skills, especially in business and employment disputes. Her holistic, integrative approach to conflict resolution draws from her experience as a human resources supervisor, minor league sports agent, and trial attorney. She is a 2001 graduate of the State University of New York Buffalo Law School trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).