Integrated Absence Management: RTW in the COVID Era

Tasha Patterson@Work

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Return to Work in the COVID Era: Home Alone?

By Dr. Glenn Pransky, MD

Scientific Advisor
Lincoln Financial Group

By Dr. David Berube, MD

VP Claims and Chief Medical Officer
Lincoln Financial Group

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced employers to jettison some key return-to-work (RTW) protocols.

Historically, in any given week, about 5% of the workforce was returning to work after a medical leave. The process was usually straightforward. After sufficient recovery and clearance from a healthcare provider to return, the worker resumed their usual job in the workplace with the support of their supervisor and coworkers.

But today, many employees have only a brief virtual visit with their doctor to get RTW clearance and, instead of going back to the workplace, resume their jobs at home alone. Although these circumstances can lead to RTW failures, employers are able to prevent prolonged absences. The key is adapting the elements of successful RTW to five work process factors.1

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