When you feel ready to revisit the idea of going back to work, you will need to transition slowly back to your former responsibilities. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may never fully recover to the point where you can do the work you did prior to your accident.
Your employer should facilitate your return to work. When you know your responsibilities, you can feel more confident about your ability to resume your old job or find alternative employment.
The value of communication
One of the most important things to remember as you prepare to go back to work is to communicate everything with your employer. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, your physician will regularly assess your condition as you recover. If your injury has created new limitations to your ability to work, you need to inform your employer of these limitations.
Similarly, if you begin working again, even doing modified jobs, you should communicate these developments with your physician. You should also inform the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs or OWCP of your intentions to return to the workplace. Failure to do so could compromise your workers’ compensation benefits.
The purpose of an RTW program
A return-to-work program should provide you with assistance in identifying prospective jobs after you suffer a work-related injury. Used in conjunction with vocational rehabilitation, you can receive support in one of two ways including the following:
- Modification of your former work responsibilities to allow you to work as you continue to heal from your injury
- Networking opportunities to help you identify promising job opportunities elsewhere if your injuries prevent you from working your former job
As soon as you start your recovery after an injury, ask your employer about your options for returning to work. Find out which resources they provide to support your effort to get back to work as soon as possible.