Document name
Vocational Rehabilitation – Programs and Services
Document number
PRO 23/2016

Effective date: November 1, 2016

Application: All workers receiving vocational rehabilitation programs and services as of the effective date.

Policy subject: Return to work and vocational rehabilitation

Purpose:

To establish guidelines for vocational rehabilitation programs and services.

BACKGROUND

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Section detail

The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) has approved POL 23/2016, Vocational Rehabilitation – Programs and Services which outlines the vocational rehabilitation programs and services offered to an injured worker with permanent restrictions. The following procedure provides detailed guidance for the implementation of POL 23/2016.

PROCEDURE

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  1. The Case Manager (CM) normally oversees plans to return a worker to the pre-injury employer. If an assessment team confirms that the worker will have restrictions that will complicate a return to the workforce (pre-injury employer or is non-employer attached), the Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist (VRS) and CM (as part of the Case Management Team) will make a joint decision to begin vocational planning, with the goal of developing an Individualized Vocational Plan (IVP).
  2. The CM will ensure eligible workers are assessed by the VRS for personal care allowance and any payment made will be in accordance with POL 10/2014, Allowance Personal Care.

Individualized Vocational Plan (IVP)

  1. The VRS is responsible for providing the content of the IVP, but the CM must be kept informed during its development.
  2. The VRS will undertake any vocational assessments or testing necessary to determine the extent and scope of vocational programs and services required, evaluating those factors outlined in Policy Point 8.
  3. Based on the employability assessment and transferable skills analysis, the VRS, in consultation with the worker, will select the most suitable re-employment alternative following the Hierarchy of Objectives outlined in Appendix A (POL 23/2016). Programs and services will be matched to the selected objective. It is important to note these are a general guideline, with some objectives interchangeable, depending on individual circumstances.
  4. The employability assessment and transferable skills analysis must be completed by the VRS within 20 business days from the date the Case Management Team decides to provide vocational rehabilitation services and the IVP within 12 weeks. These standards will be reviewed annually for any necessary revisions.
  5. Where self-employment is the selected vocational objective, the IVP must be developed in accordance with PRO 11/2014, Vocational Rehabilitation – Self-Employment Plans and POL 01/2018, Benefits – Long-Term Earnings Loss.
  6. The VRS will ensure the worker and appropriate WCB staff sign the IVP in accordance with the spending limits outlined under Points 14 and 15 below. A detailed analysis will be included with the IVP outlining the following:
    1. The suitable short and long-term objectives for re- employment, including outcome measures and time frames for success.
    2. Labor market research for suitable occupations (where applicable).
    3. The selection of programs and services required to meet the vocational objectives.
    4. The worker’s responsibilities for successful completion of the IVP.
    5. The expectation that the worker will demonstrate active involvement in their own rehabilitation.
    6. Any costs necessary for modifications to the home, vehicle and work place to address mobility or accessibility issues (POL 04/2015, Modifications – Home, Vehicle and Work).
    7. The associated costs for implementation of the plan, including academic, technical or on-the-job training, equipment and tools not provided by an employer or required for a self-employment plan (POL 05/2004, Vocational Rehabilitation – Equipment and Tools), travel and sustenance expenses (POL 39/2010, Expenses – Travel and Sustenance) or relocation allowances (POL 02/2014, Vocational Rehabilitation – Moving Allowance).
    8. Ongoing entitlement to compensation benefits and an estimation of earnings potential (capacity).
  7. Where the worker experiences an interruption in their vocational training program exceeding eight weeks, the VRS will explain to the worker that the worker is expected to actively seek employment. Where individual circumstances of the worker (e.g., age, location, suitable employment, etc.) and other conditions permit, the VRS may assess a worker as employable for periods less than the eight weeks. If the worker is considered employable for periods less than eight weeks, the VRS will include written justification in the IVP.

Reporting

  1. The VRS will provide ongoing progress reports to the CM.
  2. Where the VRS reports a worker is non-compliant with the vocational plan or absent from the program for any other reason, the CM may suspend benefits in accordance with POL 15/2016, Suspension of Benefits.
  3. At the conclusion of the IVP, the VRS will provide a written Closure Report to the CM, with the following information included:
    1. Documentation of the worker’s marks and/or certificates achieved through the program attended.
    2. If employment has been obtained, where the worker is employed, job title, current wages and yearly wage increments (if applicable).
    3. Where applicable, an Earnings Replacement Referral/Estimated Earnings Capacity Report (ER); and
    4. If the worker is not employed, the rationale as to why this has not occurred and any recommendations for earnings replacement.
  4. Where a worker has been considered employable, but has not obtained employment, the VRS will pay job search benefits in accordance with POL 17/2010, Termination of Compensation Benefits – Notice. Where the worker has chosen to relocate to seek or obtain confirmed employment, 8 to 12 weeks job search benefits will be provided (POL 02/2014, Vocational Rehabilitation – Moving Allowance).

Spending Limits

  1. The CM is ultimately responsible for the claim, but delegates authority to the VRS to approve IVPs with estimated or cumulative costs up to $50,000. For those IVPs with estimated or cumulative costs greater than $50,000, the VRS and CM will co-sign and submit to the Team Leader for authorization.
  2. Return to work costs will be paid and monitored by the VRS. If the actual costs exceed the estimate by 10 per cent, an addendum will be attached to the IVP. If the actual costs are projected to exceed the estimate by less than 10 per cent, the VRS will provide written rationalization through a vocation claims decision (VCD) memorandum. Where actual costs exceed $50,000, the VRS and CM will co-sign and submit to the Team Leader for authorization.
  3. With the exception of the items listed under Point 12, no return to work costs will be paid unless they have been included in an approved IVP.
  4. Reasonable costs associated with developing an IVP and or in support of the customer’s efforts to investigate their employment options may be authorized by the VRS without having to include them in a formal IVP, provided the reason for the expense is documented:
    1. Vocational testing/assessment fees and expenses.
    2. Travel and sustenance expenses to attend employment or other vocational exploration interviews.
    3. Employment Skills Development Workshop expenses.
    4. Subject to the approval of the Team Leader, other unexpected expenses incidental to return to work planning or activities.
  5. The VRS will authorize the payment of invoices received from external sources covering expenditures for return to work upgrading and job search services. The VRS will compare each invoice to service expectations. All invoices will be assessed for accuracy and reasonableness before authorization for payment is given. Payment Specialists will ensure that proper authorization from the VRS is provided before issuing a payment.

Policy references

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