Below are some guidelines the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission has laid out as the guidelines for vocational rehabilitation. I get a lot of calls from injured workers wondering what vocational rehabilitation is. Vocational rehabilitation is the process of working with a vocational rehabilitation counselor to help an injured worker re-enter the workforce; usually, under physical limitations that they did not have prior to their work accident. This below is what the Commission has laid out as the guidelines for vocational rehabilitation.
A) Vocational rehabilitation services, including vocational evaluation, counseling, job coaching, job development, job placement, on-the-job training, education, and retraining, shall take into account the employee’s pre-injury job and wage classification; age, aptitude and level of education; the likelihood of success in the new vocation; and the relative costs and benefits of such services. Retraining should be considered if job placement efforts are not successful, or the employee’s transferable skills are not readily marketable.
B) The provider should not ask the employee to engage in a job search or vocational rehabilitation until he/she is medically released for work. However, the provider may require the employee to meet in order to assess the employee’s potential for work, and to prepare resumes and to schedule other appropriate actions, such as attending job preparation training, in anticipation of employment.
C) The two goals of vocational rehabilitation are to restore the employee to gainful employment, and to relieve the employer’s burden of future compensation. Rehabilitation providers should attempt to find employment consistent with the employee’s pre-injury position and salary level, and the provider should take into account such factors as distance, transportation costs, and actual anticipated earnings from the potential job, when considering such alternative employment.
D) It is the rehabilitation providers responsibility to assess employment opportunities by direct contact with potential employers, and to determine whether a suitable position is presently available that is within the employee’s restrictions and for which the employee is qualified. Until such prescreening contacts have been made to purge inappropriate leads, the provider should not ask the employee to attend interviews, but the provider may ask the employee to complete resumes and to attend job preparation training. The provider may ask the employee to attend interviews for present employment opportunities Where it is anticipated that the employee will be released to such work within a reasonably brief period.
E) Telemarketing and commission sales positions are not appropriate job placement, unless the employee has demonstrated aptitude or ability in this line of work. Interviews with sheltered workshops and selective employers who are subsidized by employers/carriers are also inappropriate, if they do not provide the potential for legitimate rehabilitation, such as learning work skills or restoring the employee to a productive place in the labor market.
F) Requiring employees to look in newspapers contact a specific number of potential employers per week, check listings at the VEC, or register with temporary services does not constitute appropriate “vocational rehabilitation.” However, an employee may volunteer to do these activities. It would also be inappropriate for the rehabilitation provider to impose a blanket requirement on the employee to submit all job applications within twenty-four hours. It is not unreasonable for the provider to request written confirmation of the employee’s job interviews or applications, where possible.
G) Rehabilitation providers may not advise the employee to withhold information about his/her injury or job capabilities during job interviews or on applications. However, the employee may not discuss them in such a way as to sabotage the interview or application process.
H) Employees are not required to give rehabilitation providers personal or financial information, such as number of children, spouse’s employment, or credit history, unless such information relates to a bona fide occupational qualification for employment. An employee is required to disclose whether he/she is legally eligible for employment, has a valid driver’s license, or has been convicted of a felony, and to provide his/her previous employment history.
WATCH OUT!!!! These guidelines are about to change and, unfortunately, for the benefit of the workers compensation insurance companies. I will update you when there are changes and they go into effect.
If you would like more information on the Virginia workers compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.