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What to Expect At Return to Work Meetings

These meetings are scheduled when you are injured, ill or disabled and require some form of modification to your job. These modifications can be a decrease in your days of work, or how many hours in a day you may work, or it can be related to certain duties that you perform at work.

Once your medical provider (MD, Physio, Chiropractor ect.) provides you documentation with restrictions, you must bring this documentation to your Nursing Resource Coordinator (NRC).

Your NRC will forward this note to the Occupational Environmental Safety Health Office, in which a Disability Manager (currently Bernice) will then contact you and set up a meeting.

Note: If you have any form of restrictions or modifications you can't return to work until there has been a Return to Work meeting. This is provided as a benefit in your contract to benefit and protect you.

Frequently Asked Questions
Who sets up the RTW meeting?
OESH will coordinate the meeting with all the people that are required to be there, and then either OESH or your NRC will notify you of the meeting date and time.
Do I have to attend the Return to Work meeting?
Yes, you must attend your return to work meeting if you are not able to attend then let OESH or your NRC know and they will reschedule your meeting date. It is important for you to attend as only you can say how you feel about your work and how it affects your injury and/or illness
When will I get a meeting?
Timing of meetings can vary from 1 to 3+ weeks depending on the availability of all the people that need to be in attendance
Who will attend my RTW Meeting?
You
OESH
NRC
Team Manager
Union Representative
WCB/MPI/HEBP Case Manager if applicable
Medical Provider (in certain circumstances)
What will be discussed?
Discussion will include:
- The restrictions that your medical provider has asked to implement
- Contract Issues regarding your breaks, benefits, vacation and monetary coverage
- Discussion on how you will be paid and by whom
- What types of clients and tasks that you may see while on your return to work
- A schedule will be discussed and developed
- Whether you would benefit going back into your caseload or an alternate placement
- Whether you have a temporary or permanent accommodation
What will the schedule look like?
- If your doctor has recommended a decrease in hours of work or how many days you may work your schedule will reflect that, note that you may not be able to work your posted rotation while participating in your return to work plan
- For your continuity of care you will in most instances be scheduled for Monday-Friday Day Shift, this will aid in you having your NRC and OESH available should you encounter any complications
When and who should I contact if I am having problems during my RTW?

Note: It is your responsibility to tell your NRC and OESH if you are having problems with your schedule, tasks and/or clients
- You should immediately phone your NRC and tell them what problems you are having, whether it be pain, discomfort, or inappropriate tasks or clients
- You should also phone OESH and inform them of your complications
- You should also tell your Medical Provider
Role of the Union - Rehabilitation and Return to Work Program

By: Dawn Thompson

Article 7A07 of the Collective Agreement indicates...

"The Employer agrees to actively participate and facilitate the rehabilitation and return to work of ill, injured or disabled nurses even when he/she is not covered under the D & R, WCB, or MPI programs. Any such nurse will be supernumerary in nature when reasonably possible. The Union shall be notified by the employer if there is a request for a Rehabilitation and Return to Work program for any nurse. The Employer shall include the Union in the meeting(s) with the nurse to review the provisions of the program to ensure the work designated is within her/his restrictions and limitations.'

The new language in the Collective Agreement indicates, "Where appropriate, By agreement between the Employer and the Union, job postings may be waived.' This is to ensure that the process to accommodate nurses in the workplace is followed as per legislation.

THE UNION'S ROLE IN THE RETURN TO WORK PROCESS

The role of the Union is to ensure the rights of the injured nurse and those of the bargaining unit are not violated under the Collective Agreement. HOW DO WE DO THAT?

First and foremost, the inclusion of the Union (worksite/local) in the Rehabilitation and Return to Work process is mandatory. Often, employers will meet with the injured member and neglect to include the union. If this is happening in your worksite/local contact your Worksite President or Labour Relations Officer.

The purpose of a Return to Work plan is to ensure that the member returns to work in a safe and timely manner. The plan should also include how the member is coping with their day to day activities. The plan may be going to fast if the member is finished her/his shift and is unable to cope with their life outside of work. The plan is not written in stone and should be able to flow with the member's stamina.

The Return to Work plan is a work hardening program. The member has responsibilities to ensure her/his Return to Work is successful. These include regular follow up with their primary careprovider ie doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor or naturopath. The member should also keep the lines of communication open with their supervisors and their Worksite reps. The member should be aware that the modified duty form should be as concise as possible to their particular restrictions. Members should be cognizant of their restrictions and adhere to them. Not doing so could jeopardize their progress and their participation in their Return to Work Plan.

The Union's role is to be part of the team along with the stakeholders. This team is there to ensure the member has a successful return to work. The Union must be aware of what the plan is. Is the employer following the restrictions and assigning work accordingly? Is the member following their restrictions? The Union must also make sure the bargaining unit is aware that one of their colleagues is on a Return to Work plan. Often Worksite leaders are asked "why does Jane not have to do that'. The response should be "the union is aware of the situation and Jane is on a return to work' We must encourage our members to keep the lines of communication open with the employer, WCB, MPI, or HEBP. At times, return to works have failed because members have been afraid to say no to work that is out of their restrictions. Members tell us they felt pressured and wanted "to help out', that is why they may not be making progress in their plan. It is our job as union representatives to assure them that they are protected under the Collective Agreement. Working outside their restrictions could also hurt their claim with one of the stakeholders.

When a nurse is on WCB, MPI, or Supernumerary, the union must advise the member to apply for disability benefits. Supernumerary means that the nurse is in addition to the regular staffing complement to ensure that the return to work is successful.

Article 3902 of the Collective Agreement indicates...

"The parties agree that income protection credits and Workers Compensation benefits will be used where applicable, to offset the elimination period. Once the elimination period has been exhausted, the nurse will commence drawing disability benefits. It is understood that the elimination period for the Disability and Rehabilitation is one hundred and nineteen (119) calendar days. A nurse may claim income protection benefits for the period not to exceed the elimination period.'

Members often get caught not having applied for D & R benefits. This can cause all sorts of problems for the member. Their benefits such as physio, dental and pension may be in jeopardy if not applied for within the specified time period. Encourage your employer to have a package to guide members through this time. The Worksite could develop a "cheat sheet' for reps to help the member through the mountain of paper work that is involved for the injured member. Members often feel overwhelmed with all the forms and phone calls. It is important that the Worksite has that information ready to assist the member.

Members who may be off work a short period of time and have exhausted their income protection banks have the option of applying for Employment Insurance benefits. If the nurse is in receipt of EI benefits, the Employer is still responsible to pay for hours worked and the member is responsible to report his/her earnings to EI.

It is not the Unions job to decide when a member is ready to go back to full duties. At times, we may think why is that member still on modified duties? The responsibility lies with the member's primary careprovider, WCB, MPI, D & R and the Employer. The stakeholders are to follow the restrictions that are given by the primary care provider. If there are questions, the stakeholders are to follow up.

As the union we are not there to judge, we are there to support. Often we get caught up in the physical aspect of the member's injury and not the emotional. Being off work and wondering if you will ever get back to full duties is very stressful on the member. It is often beneficial to encourage the member to attend EAP. We are there as union activists to support our members in their quest to return to the work place healthy, both emotionally and physically.

Remember it could be you.



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