Term Paper: Personnel Law and Regulation Workers

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[. . .] Training and other services may include:

Coordination of medical services

Vocational assessment

Vocational evaluation

Vocational counseling

Vocational rehabilitation plan development

Vocational rehabilitation plan monitoring

Vocational rehabilitation training

Job development

Job placement (Wisconsin).

The purpose of the Rehabilitation benefit is to assist the injured employee to return to a productive place in society. The goal is to return them to a work environment where they can earn an income. This would be beneficial to all parties. It is obviously good for the injured employee, and for the employer to have the employee being able to regain meaningful employment. The insurer also benefits by not having to continue to pay lifelong disability benefits. Trying to achieve all of these goals is the purpose of Worker's Compensation Rehabilitation. It is not always an easy goal or an uncomplicated process. (Wisconsin).

Part of the problem is that no two cases are exactly the same. Many factors compose each case. Obviously, the current condition of the injured worker is reviewed and evaluated. Each individual seeking assistance from a worker's compensation rehabilitation service comes with different background, abilities, education, skill, and knowledge. (Wisconsin).

The first step is to assign a case to a counselor. Throughout the states, various people can be a worker's compensation rehabilitation counselor. Some are employees of a specific state agency, while others are hired by private firms whose services are approved by the state. (Washington).

The counselor reviews the case in detail. The ultimate question is: "Is the disability an obstacle to getting or keeping a job?" If the answer is yes, rehabilitation services could provide the answer to return the person to meaningful employment. (Texas).

There is often an initial interview. During that first meeting, the counselor asks for medical and personal information. A work history is developed. The counselor also attemps to determine the nature of the worker's disability. In most cases, there are two elements that must be present for the case to proceed:

The injured worker must have a physical, mental or visual disability which results in a substantial barrier to employment;

The worker requires vocational rehabilitation and services to prepare for, find and keep employment.

Some injuries are so severe that vocational rehabilitation services are not appropriate. For example, a worker that was injured and lost sight, now blind, is likely not to receive vocation rehabilitation services. However, each state is different, and established regulations would determine if a blind worker would receive this benefit. (Texas).

Following the intitial interview, the counselor may gather additional medical records, doctors reports, and other information that could help determine the probability of a successful rehabiliation program. The counselor then reviews all the existing medical, vocational, and personal data. (Texas).

If the counselor believes that vocational rehabilitation is in order, a determination is made to make certain the injured worker is eligible for this worker's compensation benefit. Assuming the benefit is available, the counselor may ask for some evaluative testing. These tests might be used to determine the nature or severity of a disability, or if further evaluations or testing might be arranged in the case. (Texas).

During the process, the counselor makes a determination if the injured worker should receive vocational rehabiliation. If the counselor believes the case is not eligible, a denial of services is provided to the applicant, and an appeal process is usually available. (Texas).

If the worker is found to be eligible, additional evaluations or testing could be scheduled to determine an appropriate vocational goal. Once these tests and evaluations are completed, the counselor and the injured worker develop a Vocational Rehabilitation Plan. In most states, this plan is:

jointly developed, agreed upon and signed by the worker and the vocational rehabilitation counselor.

A designed to achieve the employment objectives, both long and short-term, consistent with your unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities and capabilities.

A include an assessment of career interests.

A include a statement by the worker describing how you were informed about and involved in choosing among alternative goals, objectives, services, entities providing such services and methods used to provide or procure such services.

A include information about the worker's rights and responsibilities as a vocational rehabilitation client. (Pennsylvania).

Other factors are often included in the plan. A timeline of the projected dates of completion, duration of each service, technology services, on-the-job and related personal assistance services, post employment services assessment and evaluation procedures are usually included. (Pennsylvania).

There are many different types of services available to an injured worker participating in a vocational rehabilitation program. It is important to remember the social aspect of the worker's compensation system. The idea is to provide a "no-fault" benefit or insurance plan to the injured worker. The goal remains to get the injured worker back to work. In reality, many cannot return to manual labor or jobs similar to the one they had prior to their injury. For example, a dock worker may have loaded and unloaded trucks when a slip-and-fall accident occurred. Surgery was required, and an othopedic surgeon indicates that the repair prevents any physical manual labor. The worker could work, but not doing manual labor as was being performed. The goal of the vocational rehabilitation would be to retrain the worker and develop skills to make him employable in a different field. (Pennsylvania).

In most states, vocational rehabilitation services include any goods and services necessary to render the injured worker with a disability employable, including but not limited to the following:

College, vocational or technical education.

Counseling and guidance services.

Continuing support services such as transportation, interpreters, or job coaches after the injured worker begins a job (if necessary to keep the job).

Evaluation to determine the appropriate vocational or training program, or vocational objective.

Assistance in finding a job.

Independent life skills training.

Note takers or interpreters.

Readers, tutors, therapists, child care and other support services if necessary to participate in a training program.

Rehabilitation engineering and adaptive technology.

Services to the injured worker's family in order to facilitate the rehabilitation.

Limited subsistence living expenses such as food, shelter and clothing when necessary in order to participate in training.

Telecommunications and technological aids.

Coordinating and, if necessary, funding transportation to and from a training program or other services.

Tools, equipment and supplies necessary for the injured worker to participate in a training program or to begin a job.

Any other goods or services which can be reasonably expected to increase the employability potential are generally also available.

From this long list, it is easily understood how worker's compensation rehabilitation services attempt to return the injured worker to employment. It is also easily discerned as to why each case must be carefully managed, not only to prevent fraud or mishandling, but also to provide services that could be worthwhile to the injured employee. (Bloch; Prins).

Labor Unions, as might be expected, are concerned about workers being injured on the job. The AFL-CIO tells its members, that "It shouldn't hurt to go to work. But in 1998, nearly 6 million U.S. workers were injured at work or became sick because of their jobs."

The AFL-CIO acts as a federation of America's unions. The AFL-CIO includes more than 13 million of America's workers in 65 member unions working in virtually every part of the economy.

The large labor union advises their members to notify your supervisor, your personnel department, and your union steward when injured. The Union tells its member to get whatever medical treatment is needed. Members are advised that they may be required to see a doctor selected by the employer. The unions members are also informed that is if they are injured on the job, the employer's insurance company is obligated to pay for reasonable and necessary medical treatment.

The union goes further by informing its members to get a copy of any report written by an employer, including any "incident report." They advise the union steward to obtain the names of workers who witnessed the injury or assisted the employee afterward, as that information maybe needed later if the member seeks workers' compensation benefits.

As part of its mission to assist its members, the AFL-CIO informs its members that if a claim for benefits is filed and it is rejected, the worker has the right to appeal the ruling, even to the courts. They advise their members to seek legal advice whenever necessary.

The union also directs its members to websites and other information that provides information on how the union member should handle the relationship with the employer, if injured. For example, on Saturday, March 29, 2003, the AFL-CIO website at http://www.aflcio.org, provided a direct link to a page at http://www.about.comthat explains "how to handle injuries on the job."

This site, at http://backandneck.about.com/library/howto/htwc.htm?once=true&,provided the following instruction on handling the injury:

Here's How:

Tell your supervisor immediately.

Be sure the personnel or human resources department is told.

Go to the doctor or hospital for examination,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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