Getting Wisconsin workers back to work after workplace injuries

Injured employees and employers need to work together to improve the employee’s chances of successfully returning to work.

Because Wisconsin has no-fault laws when it comes to workers' compensation cases, it does not matter who is responsible for a workplace accident, all that matters is getting injured employees back to work as soon as possible so they can continue to earn a livelihood. For the best results for everyone involved, employers and employees alike have to work together to ensure a smooth transition back into the work environment.

Have a return-to-work program

It is essential that employers have a return-to-work program already in place to help speed things up and iron out wrinkles. The program policy should include descriptions of jobs easily done by recovering employees as well as the physical abilities necessary to carry out the job successfully. Perhaps most importantly, this program should be overseen by a human resources professional who is up to date on the latest federal as well as state laws and regulations regarding disabled and injured employees.

Bear pre-existing conditions in mind

Depending on the injury, there is a chance a pre-existing health condition the employee had before being injured can impact her or his recovery. For instance, the employee might be obese, have diabetes, suffer from anxiety or have heart complications. The existence of such conditions can lead to a longer recovery time, and employers should take this into account when deciding how long the employee will remain in the return-to-work program.

Be flexible

Rather than locking the employee into a restricted role or the same position she or he had before the injury but with fewer or lesser responsibilities, it might be better for employers to get creative when getting employees back to work. This might mean letting the injured worker telecommute, or allowing the employee to work part-time rather than full-time. Additionally, it could be better to change the injured employee's schedule to something more accommodating.

Have a solid budget and timeline in place

Employers who have return-to-work programs in place already have an idea how much it costs to have an employee out and how much it can cost to reintegrate an employee back into the workplace. For this reason, some employees rush injured workers through the program to reduce overall costs. It makes more financial sense to set up a proper budget and timeframe for the program so temporarily disabled employees are more likely to return to work and do so with their full professional capabilities, which is often better and less expensive than losing the employee entirely.

Wisconsin employees should understand their options when it comes to workplace injuries and returning to work. Sitting down with an attorney to discuss a case is the best way to proceed and have a solid chance at a favorable outcome.