Early Intervention and Return to Work Program for supervisors

The goal is to encourage a safe, timely and sustainable return to work by BC Pubic Service employees who have been ill or injured, regardless of whether the absence is work-related or not.

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The cost of health-related absences in the BC Public Service

Short Term Illness and Injury Plan (STIIP), Long Term Disability Plan (LTD) and WorkSafeBC claims are fully funded by government. 

The cost of these plans to government has been as high as $93 million annually (this doesn’t include the cost of backfilling positions for sick employees).

Even a 1% reduction in these benefit costs amounts to a savings of $930,000.

Benefits of early intervention

The Early Intervention and Return to Work Program promotes intervention at the earliest opportunity, ideally while employees are at work and an absence can be prevented altogether.

Research shows that a program focused on early intervention and return to work is an effective way to reduce the rate of health-related absences and shorten the time an employee is absent from work.

Supporting employees in managing their health issues and showing concern for their well-being leads to improved employee engagement and a healthier workforce.

As a supervisor, you can have a significant impact on your work unit. You can support an employee at work, or, if the employee is on sick leave, help them return to work as soon as possible.

We encourage a safe, timely and sustainable return to work by employees who have been ill or injured, regardless of whether the absence is work-related or not.

Employees who have a gradual and early return to work while they continue their recovery are proven to enjoy a more complete medical recovery and have fewer long-term complications.

Program goals

In descending priority, the program’s goals from a rehabilitative perspective are:

  • To assist the employee to stay at work with job modifications rather than be absent
  • The employee’s early return to their own occupation with modified duties and/or hours
  • The employee’s early return to a temporary alternative occupation with modified duties and/or hours
  • Re-training and referral to alternative employment if permanent medical restrictions exist
  • Ongoing benefits, if no option to return to gainful employment

Your responsibilities as a supervisor or manager

  • Understand your accountabilities as outlined in the Accountability Framework for Human Resource Management
  • Manage routine return-to-work cases. Offer timely modified duties and implement return to work plan in keeping with any restrictions or limitations noted
  • For non-routine cases, contact and work directly with a disability case specialist and/or a health care team member like an occupational health nurse or injury recovery specialist
  • Review eligibility for STIIP leave, approve leave if appropriate, and initiate timely pay action to avoid overpayments (such as, record STIIP in Time and Leave System)
    • Contact AskMyHR (IDIR restricted) to be redirected to a return to work specialist if you need advice about eligibility for STIIP
  • Determine the STIIP start date and monitor the 21-calendar day STIIP re-qualification period once the employee has completed a full-time return to work
  • Ask for return to work planning information as needed on a doctor's certificate
  • Keep the supervisor’s copy of the doctor’s certificate form (the short portion of the form) in the workplace. Don't keep any copies of the confidential portion of the form, send these to the occupational health nurse (see address on form)
  • Maintain contact and relationship with your employee throughout the absence. Remember to engage them in discussions about what they can do as they recover and be flexible and open to suggestions
  • Be proactive and identify opportunities to modify work for a gradual return to work
  • Complete and provide return to work trial letters to your employee
  • Process and approve pay for your employee for the hours worked on a return to work trial
  • Complete WorkSafeBC forms as required by legislation if your employee is injured in a workplace incident. Find out more about WorkSafeBC claims

Good practices

  • Communicate clear attendance expectations to all employees
    • Don’t wait for issues to arise; be proactive in setting expectations for all your employees so they know and understand what's required in terms of their attendance, as well as performance and behaviour
  • Be prepared to offer modified duties
    • When employees do contact you to say that they are ill or injured, ask them what they can do
    • Explore job modifications with employees and demonstrate flexibility and innovation. Help them stay at work
  • Make sure employees are aware of who to call to report when they will be absent from work
    • Set the stage; let all employees know that when they do call in, they can expect to be asked if there's work they can do since modified duties will be made available. They'll be welcomed back when they can do any portion of work
  • Identify and assist struggling employees
    • Open lines of communication
    • Take the time to have a conversation with employees who may be struggling
    • Encourage employees to seek assistance from their Employee and Family Assistance Services (EFAS) provider for a variety of work/life balance and health-focused services, as well as counselling support. Call 1-800-655-5004
  • Encourage employees to participate in cold and flu prevention programs
  • Ensure employees have access to training in safe work procedures 
    • Identify and address risks of musculoskeletal injuries through an ergonomics assessment
    • Regularly review and discuss the ergonomics in your workplace