Vocational rehab for injured workers is designed to provide workers who have suffered on-the-job injuries with services to help them in regaining the ability to earn a living through gainful employment.
If you are involved in a workers' compensation case in which these services may be deemed appropriate, here are 4 things to know about vocational rehab:
- Vocational rehab may be requested by employers – Employers may opt to provide vocational rehab for injured employees involved in workers' comp claims to assist them in getting back to work as quickly as possible. In such cases, the employee must comply with those services, which must be provided at the employer's expense.
- Injured employees may also request vocational rehab – Injured employees may request vocational rehab to assist them in returning to work. If an employee is deemed unable to return to his or her former employment and the treating physician and rehabilitation specialist agree that vocational rehab is necessary to facilitate other employment, the employer is required to foot the bill for services related to readying the employee for a new, more manageable career.
- Vocational rehab offers a variety of valuable services – These may, according to individual circumstances, include skills analysis and testing, job site assessment and accommodations, assistive technology and devices, vocational counseling and evaluation, resume and employment application assistance, training, education and job placement, among other services, designed to help injured employees return to date-of-injury positions or secure new jobs with comparable compensation.
- Vocational rehab for injured workers can offer benefit to all involved – The vast majority of workers who have suffered impairments due to workplace injury do want to get back on their feet and back to work. Vocational rehab for injured workers can benefit those workers by helping them get back to stable, manageable employment more quickly than they might on their own, restoring their independence, self-esteem and financial security. This can aid in resolving workers' comp cases in a timely fashion, benefiting employers, insurance carriers and other stakeholders in the form of reduced costs and closed workers' compensation cases.
There are, of course, costs associated with vocational rehab for injured workers. However, there are also potential benefits to be had by providing the support and services injured employees need to overcome the challenges they face in returning to productivity after serious workplace injuries – benefits that can make vocational rehab a cost-effective option in many injury cases. The key to realizing the benefits of this option in the most cost-effective way is open and effective communication between injured workers, employers and all other stakeholders and a proactive approach to return to work planning.