Returning to Work on Modified Duty: How Far Should an Employer Bend?
By Dr. Michael Lacroix
How far should an employer bend to help employees return to work after a leave? The short answer is: as far you can without harming the business.
Your organization invests time, effort, and money training employees, anticipating this will be repaid in productivity, commitment, retention, and, ultimately, customer satisfaction and profits. For many firms, the key assets of the business ride up and down the elevators every day. When employees experience health or other difficulties and go on leave, the business case for helping them return to work (RTW) is simple; the average turnover cost for a mid-level employee is estimated at 125% of that person’s yearly salary.1
Remember that the longer employees are out, the less likely they are to RTW; the clock starts ticking on day 1 of the absence, so time is of the essence. Equally important, the employee’s manager is the copilot for RTW from a medical leave. Yes, employees have to be medically cleared. But if the manager is a willing and supportive participant in the accommodation process, employees are more likely to work with their physicians to get cleared for release under modified duty or even back to their original job.
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