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When you can’t bring the injured worker back to work
WT services, including assessments and plans, are provided to help the WPPs find suitable and available work with the injury employer, or to help a worker re-enter the labour market in a 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
- the employer is unable to provide suitable and available 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 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 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. Employers will receive summary reports only, in order to respect the privacy of worker information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).
“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 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.
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 role in ensuring the WSIB’s WT plan is realistic and appropriate, and monitor the WT plan costs to ensure they are reasonable. Remind the WSIB that you want to be consulted throughout the WT process.
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.