When you can’t bring the injured worker back to work
Work Transition (WT) services, including assessments and plans, are provided to help the workplace parties (WPPs) find suitable and available work with the injury employer, or to help a worker re-enter the labour market in a suitable occupation (SO).
An injured worker will be provided with a WT assessment if:
- the worker has, or likely has, a permanent impairment
- the worker is not capable of performing the pre-injury job, and
- the employer is unable to provide suitable and sustainable work, or
- the employer has identified a job but it is unclear if the work is suitable.
A WT assessment includes testing to determine if the worker has the skills, abilities and knowledge to either return to work with the injury employer, or to re-enter the labour market in a SO. It is usually provided between six and nine months following the date of injury but, if that is not possible, it will be done as soon as the worker is able to return to suitable work. Although workers usually receive only one assessment, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) may decide a WT re-assessment is appropriate if, for example, the work-related impairment significantly changes.
How the WSIB determines a SO
In the process of determining a SO for a worker, the WSIB will try to maintain the employment relationship between the worker and the injury employer by identifying appropriate occupations with the injury employer, providing the worker with input and choice, and re-integrating the worker into suitable and available work at a reasonable cost.
The WSIB works with the WPPs and takes the following information into consideration:
- the worker’s functional abilities
- the worker’s employment-related aptitudes, abilities, and interests
- the kinds of jobs that are available with the injury employer through direct placement, accommodation or retraining
- labour market trends, and the likelihood of the worker being able to secure and maintain work within the SO with a new employer, and
- any pre-existing, non-work-related condition(s) the worker may have, in accordance with applicable human rights legislation.
The worker and his/her representative have the opportunity to discuss the results of the assessment findings with the assessor. The WSIB, the worker and the employer (if participating in the process) will receive copies of WT assessment documentation.
“Availability” of the SO
In the process of identifying available work, the WSIB will look
- first, to a SO with the injury employer in the local labour market, or in the surrounding area with a reasonable commute for the worker
- then, to a SO with a new employer in the local labour market, and
- finally, to a SO with a new employer in the broader labour market
Relocation services are offered to the worker when
- the worker must change jobs because of permanent work-related restrictions, and
- the injury employer has no SO in the local labour market, and
- the injury employer has no SO in the surrounding area within a reasonable commuting distance for the worker, and
- there are no SOs in the local labour market with a new employer, and
- the broader labour market offers greater employment prospects in the SO.
The WSIB pays for “appropriate expenses” that are directly related to the worker looking for work in the broader labour market. After receiving a bona fide job offer in the broader labour market, the WSIB pays for additional “appropriate expenses” associated with that relocation. If the worker decides not to relocate, and there is no SO in the local labour market, WT services end and the worker’s loss of earnings (LOE) benefits are adjusted to reflect the earnings of the established SO in the broader labour market.
A WT plan outlines the kind of specialized assistance or formal training the worker needs to enable him/her to either return to work with the injury employer or, if necessary, in a SO that is available in the labour market. The WSIB develops the WT plan in collaboration with the worker, the injury employer (where appropriate), union representatives, other authorized representatives, and the treating health care professional where necessary. WT plans may be revised to accommodate a significant change in circumstances related to the worker, the work-related impairment, or the labour market. The WSIB may also revise the original SO, if necessary.
Enhanced WT plans for young workers
Injured workers who, on the date of injury
- are 15 to 24 years of age
- are not students, learners or apprentices
- are unable to return to their pre-injury job and/or have permanent work restrictions because of their permanent work-related impairment, and
- had low pre-injury earnings
may receive an enhanced SO and WT plan. This is done to try to mitigate the young worker’s potential loss of future earning capability as a result of the work injury, as much as possible, since the young worker did not have a reasonable opportunity to establish his/her earnings profile. The enhanced SO applies to the WT plan only, and is not used to calculate LOE benefits.
On-the-job training versus formal education programs
A training on the job (TOJ) program provides the worker with hands-on training at an employer’s worksite, where he/she will learn and acquire new skills that are specific to the SO, over a four- to 26-week period. The WSIB arranges the TOJ, and a training plan for the worker that includes measurable goals. The intent of this program is for the training period to lead directly to suitable and long-term work. This program is well suited to workers who are experiential learners who do not require a formal education program to facilitate a return to work in the identified SO.
Options for workers who are 55 years of age or older
If a worker is 55 years of age or older at the time the WSIB determines he/she is entitled to LOE benefits, and the worker requires a WT plan involving vocational skills training to obtain employment in a SO, he/she can choose to either participate in a WT plan to return to work in the SO, or to participate in a 12-month Transition Plan (TP) that is focused on self-directed WR in order to return to work in the SO.
If the worker chooses the self-directed TP option, an irrevocable no-review option for LOE benefits payable to age 65 also applies. Full LOE benefits would continue for the 12 months the worker is participating in the self-directed TP. After that, LOE benefits would be recalculated to reflect the estimated earnings of the SO according to current labour market information.
Stay actively involved in the WT process
You should take an active part in ensuring the WSIB’s WT plan is realistic and appropriate, and monitor the WT plan costs to ensure they are reasonable. Remind the Case Manager that you want to be consulted throughout the WT process.
What to do if you disagree with the WT plan
You have 30 days from the date of the plan to notify the Case Manager, in writing, of your disagreement. Where either or both of the WPPs object to the WT plan, an “expedited” appeals process is offered. The WSIB attempts to reconsider the issue at the first level of decision-making. If an objection to the WT plan is first received by the Appeals Branch, however, the file will be assigned to an Appeals Resolution Officer (ARO) who will review the case on a priority basis, and contact the WPPs within 10 business days to determine how best to proceed with the appeal.
When the worker does not cooperate in the WT process
If the worker’s non-cooperation in WT activities continues past the 14th calendar day after the date the written notice comes into effect, the WSIB terminates the WT assessment and/or plan and reduces the worker’s LOE benefits to reflect the earnings he/she would have been able to earn if he/she had completed the WT plan.