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Early and Safe Return-to-Work


Staying in touch with work

It is important to stay connected to your workplace following an injury. If your injury prevents you from performing your regular job duties, both you and your employer are required to work together to identify suitable and available employment, even while you are receiving active medical treatment for your injury.

During each medical appointment, your doctor will provide you with a report for your own records and a second copy to bring to your employer. The employer’s copy of the doctor’s report does not contain your personal medical information; it simply identifies your physical capabilities as a result of the injury.

It is extremely important for you to provide this report to your employer by the next working day after each doctor’s visit. This will enable you to assist your employer in identifying suitable job duties that will enable you to continue working without aggravating your injury. If you work in a unionized environment, you may want to involve your union representative in this process.

Early and safe return to work

The main focus of early and safe return to work (ESRTW) is to enable you to remain at the workplace following an injury or to return to the workplace in a safe and timely manner if you have already lost time from work.

Going back to work may involve making changes to the duties and/or the hours of work. It may also involve changes to the workplaces such as acquiring equipment or other devices to help you with your return to work.

Finding the right duties

When identifying early and safe return-to-work opportunities with your employer, the first priority should be to maintain your connection to your pre-injury job at some level. Where this is not possible, it is important to work with your employer to identify suitable and available employment that is within your physical capabilities. If you and your employer require any assistance during this process, you should contact your case manager. WorkplaceNL also has an ESRTW facilitator to assist with developing and maintaining a successful ESRTW program.

Documenting a plan

Once you and your employer have identified suitable job duties that are in keeping with your functional abilities, your employer will submit an Early and Safe Return-to-Work Plan through connect, WorkplaceNL’s online service.  The agreed upon plan will outline the work schedule, hourly rate of pay and progression of duties. If any change occurs to this plan, you must immediately notify your case manager.

If the salary you earn during your return to work is less than 85% of your net pre-injury earnings (subject to the maximum compensable ceiling), WorkplaceNL will pay the difference, up to your compensable rate.

Sample Calculation

Communicating progress

Communication is critical during early and safe return to work. The frequency and method of communication between you and your employer during the process will be determined by the employer’s procedures. However, we recommend you contact your employer weekly during the early and safe return-to-work program. You should also contact them immediately if there is an improvement or deterioration in your physical condition that could affect your return to work plan. It is also important to keep your case manager updated on your progress. 

See Related Documents for more information on the elements of a Return-to-Work plan.