Injured Employees and Vocational Rehabilitation: Know Your Rights

On the job, injuries are a frequent occurrence to workers each year. For example, there were about 5, 333 work injuries that were recorded in 2019. The accidents may hinder the employee from going back to their usual tasks or ultimately limiting them from going back to work.

In such cases, a worker has the right to receive vocational rehabilitation from their employer. The injured employee receives training that can help them retain their jobs within the same field or get into a new work line.

Vocational Rehabilitation Rights for Injured Workers

The type or amount of vocational rehabilitation a worker receives differs from one state to another. Generally, these programs aim to improve the lives of employees who have suffered temporary or permanent disability. It can also help some workers in transitioning to other industries after obtaining new skills. A study by the National Library of Medicine showed that 62% of workers in this program got new employment opportunities [source].

Still, if the disability will reduce their earning level, they may receive vocational rehabilitation. As a worker, you can also familiarize yourself with the state laws or consult an attorney to know your rights. Some of the services that an injured worked can receive include:

  • Counseling
  • Interview coaching
  • On the job training
  • Transferable skills testing and analysis
  • Wage analysis evaluation
  • Labor market surveys

Employee’s Responsibility

Most of the states require an employee to accept vocational rehabilitation. It means a worker should cooperate with the rehabilitation process and appreciate the efforts made by returning to employment. However, other states may have a different view that requires other requirements. For instance, some demand that injured workers should engage in physical and vocational rehabilitation.

If an employee doesn’t participate in the vocational program, it can reduce their benefits such as wages. Additionally, they need to abide by specific state laws to receive vocational rehabilitation services.

Employer’s Responsibility

Employers and the employee’s compensation carriers also have regulatory responsibilities and statutory roles that they need to execute. Depending on the state, an employer may have to offer counseling sessions to a worker who has lost about 60 working days. The provision should be within a specific period of five days after the threshold. In most cases, the requirements depend on the worker’s injury type.

In some states, the worker is responsible for providing items like living, travel, and childcare expenses. It can also include wage loss benefits when the worker undergoes a specific rehabilitation program. Additionally, only competent personnel provide professional assistance to injured employees. They can consist of Certified Case Managers, Disability Management Specialists, and Rehabilitation Counselors.

Getting Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits

If employees cannot go back to their regular jobs due to workplace injuries, they are eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits. Workers have a right to enjoy these benefits, even without proving that the employers or co-workers did something wrong. Even if the injury is due to worker’s negligence, they are still entitled to the benefits.

There are different state laws, but you also need approval from the state worker’s compensation board or the insurance company. With the help of a lawyer, you can know the best vocational rehabilitation program. In case you don’t receive the right benefits, you can seek legal action. To avoid a fault in a workers’ compensation lawsuit, seek the help of an experienced attorney.

In case a worker gets injured at the workplace, it’s the employer’s responsibility to take care of the injuries. In case they try to back away from providing these benefits, consult a lawyer to guide you with the legal procedures.