The Coast Unified School District return to work program is designed to accommodate employees who sustain a work-related injury or illness when a physician has determined the employee has physical or psychological limitations which prevent them from performing their normal and customary job. Temporary modified or alternative light duty positions are identified which require less physical effort so the injured worker can return to work. Following the guidelines from the treating physician and input from the injured employee, they can be returned to a position appropriate for their disability and then as the employee recovers, they may be placed in a more physically demanding position until they return to their regular job if possible.
The temporary modified or light duty program will reduce the Districts costs paid for temporary disability. Physicians in the field of rehabilitation agree that the difference between success and failure is more frequently a factor of mental attitude. When an employee moves from a disability environment to a work environment, it can be an excellent form of physical and mental therapy. A return to work program enhances both the psychological and physical healing process shortening the time an employee is off work due to an injury. Other benefits include:
- Employee continues to be productive
- Employee remains in touch with co-workers and works in a familiar setting.
- Employee avoids feeling isolated and depressed.
- Employee avoids financial stress and projects a positive image to family.
The District will develop a list of temporary light duty jobs and assign a return to work coordinator to facilitate the return to work program. The Return to Work Coordinator will utilize the interactive process and attempt to return the injured worker back to work in the following order:
- Return to their regular position with temporarily modified job responsibilities. For example, a custodian with a 30-pound lifting limitation may be able to perform all of their normal job functions with the exception of lifting large trash bags which could be done by another custodian.
- Return to their regular department to a temporary light duty job which was created to meet the injured workers restrictions. For example, a bus driver who cannot drive a bus could be utilized as a bus monitor, dispatcher or bus cleaner.
- Return to work in another department to a temporary or light duty job. For example, a maintenance worker with a 10-pound lifting limitation could work in the district office answering phones, filing or distributing mail.
The District will develop a list of light or modified duty jobs by department and/or job title. The list shall identify the department, job and supervisors/managers contact information. [An alternative procedure such as contacting the injured workers supervisor/department manager with the restrictions for accommodation and if no light duty work is available, then contacting other department managers in the District is acceptable provided the procedure is documented in your Districts Return to Work Procedure. It is the intent of this written procedure to document the process the District will utilize to make every effort to return injured employees back to work, not only in their current department, but anywhere in the organization.]
Employees will be notified in writing of the District’s return-to-work program upon hire. The employee will also be notified after a work-related injury or illness occurs.
Following an injury/illness at work in which the employee is sent for medical treatment, the employee will be provided a Physician’s Authorization to Render Medical Care and Return to Work Evaluation form to be completed by the physician.
After receiving medical treatment, the employee will report to the Districts Return to Work Coordinator and discuss the completed Physician’s Authorization to Render Medical Care and Return to Work Evaluation form. The discussion (Interactive Process) with the injured employee will involve the severity of the injury, medical restrictions and job responsibilities that the employee can and cannot perform. Based on this information, the Return to Work Coordinator will evaluate potential light or modified duty jobs which are available. Every effort will be made to return the employee back to work.
The Return to Work Coordinator will contact the injured workers supervisor or manager to determine if they can be placed in their current job with possible light or modified duty tasks which are available and meet the injured workers restrictions. If no light or modified duty jobs are available in the employee’s job category or department, the Return to Work Coordinator will evaluate the list of light or modified duty jobs in the School District and contact the appropriate supervisors/managers to determine if work is available in another department or job category.
If a light or modified duty job is assigned, the assignment will conform to the medical restrictions provided by the physician. The injured employee will be instructed to work with-in the limitations provided by the physician and notify the Return to Work Coordinator and/or their supervisor if they believe they are working outside of those restrictions. It is both the Districts and employee’s responsibility to work with-in the identified medical restrictions and limitations.
If the District cannot provide light or modified duty or the physician states they cannot return to work, the employee will be placed on industrial accident leave until such time as appropriate work can be assigned or the restrictions are lifted.
If the employee refuses the light or modified duty work, no industrial accident leave benefits are payable and sick leave or other leaves will be subject to approval by the personnel department. All cases will be evaluated on a non-precedent setting, individual basis.
The employee’s health status shall be evaluated at least monthly or each time a Physician’s Authorization to Return to Work form is submitted for reevaluation of light or modified duty. The District Return to Work Coordinator will maintain communication with the Workers’ Compensation Clerk and/or the physician’s office to ensure a return to work as soon as it is possible.
The assignment under the Districts Return to Work Program is temporary and therefore the employee shall be compensated at their regular pay schedule regardless of the classification of the temporary assignment.
Temporary light or modified duty jobs will be limited to _____ days [we recommend 60-90] unless the injured employee is showing substantial medical improvement. If it does not appear that the injured employee will return to full duty or isn’t showing any physical improvement at the end of ___ days, the light or modified duty assignment will be re-evaluated and/or eliminated at the discretion of the District.
Types of Light or Modified Duty Jobs
At the discretion of the District, if the work restrictions are minor and the regular job duties can be easily modified to accommodate the employee, they will be assigned to their regular work unit and/or duties. However, as the restrictions become more specific, the task assignment must also become more specific and defined. Each temporary modified assignment will be evaluated on an individual, case-by-case, non-precedent setting basis.
The purpose of light or modified duty is not to establish new jobs or to displace other employees. It is a means the District can utilize for tasks and duties which normally would not be done because of a lack of time, personnel or funds.
Light or modified duty assignments will be re-evaluated each time a Physician’s Return to Work Evaluation is submitted by the injured employee. A light or modified duty assignment is not guaranteed by the District for every circumstance. Light or modified duty assignments are non-precedent setting and will be considered on an individual case-by-case basis.
The District shall use appropriate discretion in light or modified duty assignments. The District’s light or modified duty assignments include, but are not limited to the following:
Maintenance Contact – Don Adams 924-2818
- Inventory Tools and Equipment
- Clean Tools and Equipment
- Facility Safety Inspection
- Service Equipment
- Inspect Fire Ext./AED’s
- Pick-up Litter
- Campus Security
Custodial/Grounds Contact – Don Adams 924-2818
- Light Cleaning/Dusting/Polishing
- Evaluate Sprinkler Coverage
- Identify Holes on Playgrounds and Sports Fields for Repairs
- Inspect Playground Equipment
- Clean Erasers and Boards
- Clean Drinking Fountains
- Paint Poles, Door Jams, Benches, etc.
- Clean Windows
Office/Clerical Contact – Annie Lachance 924-2926
- Answer Phones
- Clean/Organize Storage Room
- Welcome Visitors
- Collect Lunch Tickets
- Inventory Supplies
- Filing/Mail Distribution
- Gluing Library Book Pockets
- Shelving Library Books
Teacher/Aide Contact – Site Principal
- Clean Chalk Boards
- Grade Papers/Tutor
- Yard Duty
- Student Supervision (Library, Parking Lot, Cafeteria, Playground, Locker Room)
- Update Bulletin Boards
Transportation Contact – Don Adams 924-2818
- Bus Monitor
- Fuel Buses
- Wash and Clean Buses
- Safety Inspections
It is the goal of the Coast Unified School District to provide a safe work environment and to effectively manage workers’ compensation costs. In an effort to reduce the costs associated with lost-time injuries and a sincere desire to facilitate the return of injured employees to work, this temporary modified or light duty program has been established. The District recognizes that when employees suffer work related injuries, a temporary modified or light duty assignment will help to minimize lost time and may serve to facilitate recovery and the transition back to the employee’s regular duties and full-time work.