Free HCP QUICK FACTS - New Mexico


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The Workers' Compensation Handbook For New Mexico

Going Back to Work

Booklet B3:

How to go back to work .........................................................................................3 Return to work requirements of law ........................................................................5 Methods of Return to Work.....................................................................................6

Going back to work is better for workers because ........................................................... 2 Bringing the worker back to work is better for employers because ... ................................ 2 If you can't go back to work yet .................................................................................... 3 Best practice: Formal job descriptions and essential job functions.................................... 3 Best practice: Meet the community physician................................................................. 3 Required medical releases............................................................................................. 4

Education and training............................................................................................8
Help from the Workers' Compensation Administration.................................................... 10 Workers' Compensation Handbook List of Booklets........................................................ 11

Restricted duty............................................................................................................. 6 Modified work .............................................................................................................. 6 Part time ..................................................................................................................... 6 Federal laws affecting rehiring....................................................................................... 7

Workers' compensation is almost always temporary. The goal of workers' compensation is to help the injured worker recover from the injury and return to work as soon as possible, as long as it is medically safe for the worker. If the worker can stay at work with no interruption, that is the best result for everyone. If not, the best result is for the worker to return to work as soon as the doctor permits it, for the same employer, doing the same job or a different job.

Published by the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration, a state agency. Laws can change. Check for new information by calling 1-866-WORKOMP or 1-866-967-5667 or look on the Internet at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us

__________________________________________________________

The Workers' Compensation Handbook for New Mexico Booklet B3: Going Back to Work _______________________________________

2007 Edition page 2

This booklet gives information for employers and workers about how to return to work and what the law requires. Also see Booklet B2, "Benefits for Workers While They Cannot Work." The booklet "Stay at Work/Return to Work Program Guide" is for employers, providing employer guidance and model policies. Some workers may never be able to return to work for their old employers, and will have to get ready to find a different type of work. This booklet has a section of information for those workers.

Going back to work is better for workers because ...
Worker:
ˇ You will make more money working than not working. The wages you were earning before your injury are higher than the largest workers' compensation benefit you might receive. Even if you go back to work at reduced wages, the combination of your temporary benefits and your wages from working will always be more than your benefits only if you stayed home. ˇ You will feel better.

Many years of experience of the workers' compensation system have shown that this is true. A workplace injury is a disruption in your life. When you go back to work, your life starts getting back to normal. You stay physically active, which helps you to recover. You keep up relationships with fellow workers. And you keep your mind busy, so that you are thinking about positive things rather than your injury.

Bringing the worker back to work is better for employers because ...
Employer:
You save money in many ways. Your workers' compensation insurance premiums are affected by the total cost of the indemnity benefits to injured workers. If you pay your injured employee the same wages as before the injury, the worker receives no indemnity benefit. If you pay a reduced wage for a different job at a lower level, or for part-time work, the benefit is reduced to temporary partial disability (TPD). It is also likely that the worker will recover and the claim will be finished sooner. You save money by avoiding the cost of hiring and training a new employee and the different kinds of disruptions that can occur when an experienced employee is missing from your work force. You set a positive example that is observed by the rest of your employees.
Published by the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration, a state agency. Laws can change. Check for new information by calling 1-866-WORKOMP or 1-866-967-5667 or look on the Internet at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us
__________________________________________________________

The Workers' Compensation Handbook for New Mexico Booklet B3: Going Back to Work _______________________________________

2007 Edition page 3

If you can't go back to work yet ...
Worker:
If your doctor says you can't go back to work now, ask the doctor whether you can take classes during this period. Use your recovery time to add to your education and increase your future work opportunities. See the section titled "Education and Training" in this booklet.

Best practice: Formal job descriptions and essential job functions
Employer:
Many employers write formal job descriptions that list the "essential job functions" of each job. Using these written job descriptions will make it easier for you and the health care provider to find a good match between the worker's abilities and jobs you have available. For example, the essential functions of a particular job might include specific requirements for standing, sitting, reaching, lifting, driving, seeing, hearing, etc. If you don't know how to write job descriptions using essential job functions, ask your claims representative for help, contact a Small Business Development Center or look for classes (sometimes offered as one-day seminars) given by commercial seminar companies.

Best practice: Meet the community physician
Employer:
In some communities, there may be one doctor specializing in occupational medicine who treats most of the injured workers in the area. Or, if your company policy is to make the first selection of health care provider, there is a doctor or medical group that will always be the first to see your injured employees (see the discussion of health care provider selection in Booklet B4). Make an appointment to visit this doctor with no specific case in mind, to inform the doctor about your workplace and your return-towork opportunities. Or invite the doctor to visit and observe your workplace.

How to go back to work
Together, the health care provider and the worker can determine what the worker is physically able to do. The legal decision is up to the health care provider. The doctor can establish work restrictions that allow workers to return to work, depending on the injury. For the employer, what you are seeking is a meeting place between the work you have available and the doctor's specific restrictions. These restrictions might concern certain body movements such as lifting heavy weight or reaching. Bringing the worker back to work might be easier than you thought.

Employer:
Published by the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration, a state agency. Laws can change. Check for new information by calling 1-866-WORKOMP or 1-866-967-5667 or look on the Internet at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us
__________________________________________________________

The Workers' Compensation Handbook for New Mexico Booklet B3: Going Back to Work _______________________________________

2007 Edition page 4

Under New Mexico legal guidelines, you should not simply call the doctor on the phone. You must observe certain legal limits, based on a decision by the New Mexico Court of Appeals. Work with your claims representative so that you stay within these limits. 1. Ask the worker for permission to talk with the doctor about work opportunities. If the worker agrees, get the worker's permission in the form of a written release. Your claims representative might have a form for this purpose. The worker has the right to refuse. If the worker refuses, do not insist. 2. Some health care providers have their own release forms which give them permission to talk to you. You can find out, through your claims representative, whether the worker has signed such a form. 3. Make sure your claims representative knows what kinds of work opportunities you have for this worker ­ as soon as possible. Provide written job descriptions if you have them. 4. If the worker has a lawyer, you must go through the lawyer in any communication with the health care provider. Usually, the most efficient approach is to go through your claims representative and let the claims representative communicate with the lawyer. 5. As long as the worker is not yet back to work, you can work with your claims representative to get regular updates from the doctor on the worker's condition so that you know as soon as possible when the worker is ready for a job you can offer. Some health care providers routinely provide a report of the worker's status after every visit.

Required medical releases
Under WCA rules, an injured worker is required to sign the standard medical release form issued by the WCA and no other (Rules of the WCA, NMAC 11.4.4 .9.R(2)(c)). 1 This form permits the doctor to send written reports to the claims representative, but it does not authorize other communication. An injured worker may sign a more permissive release but is not required to do so.

1

In this booklet are references to the Rules of the Workers' Compensation Administration. These references are in a standard form based on the numbering system of the New Mexico Administrative Code (NMAC); for example, NMAC 11.4.11. This stands for Title 11, Labor and Workers' Compensation; Chapter 4, Workers' Compensation; and then the number of the section and exact paragraph.

Published by the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration, a state agency. Laws can change. Check for new information by calling 1-866-WORKOMP or 1-866-967-5667 or look on the Internet at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us

__________________________________________________________

The Workers' Compensation Handbook for New Mexico Booklet B3: Going Back to Work _______________________________________

2007 Edition page 5

Return to work requirements of law
Employer:
Under certain circumstances, you are required to give preference for a job to your injured employee (§52-1-50.1 NMSA 2 ). The law says: If you are hiring, you are required to offer to rehire a worker who was injured on the job while working for you and who is currently receiving benefits for that injury, provided that: ˇ the worker applies for his former job or a modified job for which he is qualified; ˇ the worker is physically ready to do the job, as certified by a physician; and ˇ the job for which the worker has applied is available. You are also required to offer this worker a lower-paying job for which the worker is qualified, if such a job is available. The WCA ombudsmen can provide information and guidance for you in understanding your responsibilities under the rehiring provisions of the law.

Worker:
"Temporary total disability" is a definition in the law. It does not always mean you are disabled. "Temporary total disability" (TTD) in the workers' compensation law means that you are unable to do the work that you were doing before your injury (§52-5-25.1 NMSA). You might be able to do other work. ˇ If your employer offers you any other job that is within your medical restrictions, you are required to accept the job. If the pay is lower than your old job, you will get temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits to help make up the difference. If you get a job with a different employer, you are required to notify your claims representative. If your wages are the same as your old job, or higher, your benefits will stop. If your wages are lower, your benefits will be changed from temporary total to temporary partial disability benefits. If you lose the job and don't get another one, and you have not yet reached maximum medical improvement, notify your claims representative and you will be entitled to TTD benefits again.

ˇ

In this booklet are references to specific paragraphs of the workers' compensation law. These references are in a standard form. §52-1-50.1 NMSA means Chapter 52, Article 1, Paragraph 50.1 of the New Mexico Statutes Annotated (NMSA).

2

Published by the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration, a state agency. Laws can change. Check for new information by calling 1-866-WORKOMP or 1-866-967-5667 or look on the Internet at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us

__________________________________________________________

The Workers' Compensation Handbook for New Mexico Booklet B3: Going Back to Work _______________________________________

2007 Edition page 6

Methods of Return to Work
There are several ways to create opportunities for the worker to return to work and make a productive contribution to his workplace, even before he is fully recovered. Here are some common approaches.

Restricted duty
Restricted duty means a temporary job that does not make the same physical demands as the old job, and that is within the worker's current abilities. A restricted duty job can be any job suited to this particular worker's skills and the activities of this business. To prevent misunderstandings, a fixed maximum time for the restricted duty position may sometimes be established. For example, a worker who usually does physical labor might be employed in the office or cafeteria as a form of temporary light duty. Or the worker might go back to his usual work area, with temporary restrictions on what he is expected to do, such as how many pounds he is allowed to lift or how far he is allowed to bend over.

Modified work
Modified work means that a change is made to the work station, tools or another aspect of the work environment so that the worker can do his job even though has some restrictions. For example, some work modifications involve changing the height or shape of a seat or the width of a worktable, or adding a special handle to a tool. Other modifications may involve reassigning minor job duties so the worker can still do his job with help from other employees, or having a schedule of breaks so the worker can move or stretch. Many modifications use the science of ergonomics to make the work station, tools and equipment compatible with the person doing the job. Some vocational rehabilitation professionals are specialists in ergonomics and can advise employers and workers how to make these adaptations. Ask whether your insurer or self-insurance program has a specialist who can help you, or call the safety consultants at the WCA. WCA safety assistance is free of charge.

Part time
Allowing a worker to start back to work for a few hours each day or week is another way for the worker to rebuild strength and stamina during the recovery period. Part time may be used in combination with restricted duty or modified work when appropriate.

Published by the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration, a state agency. Laws can change. Check for new information by calling 1-866-WORKOMP or 1-866-967-5667 or look on the Internet at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us

__________________________________________________________

The Workers' Compensation Handbook for New Mexico Booklet B3: Going Back to Work _______________________________________

2007 Edition page 7

Best practice:

It is a good idea to set a specific time limit on the restricted or part-time work, with the understanding that after this time limit the worker will be expected to return to full duty. Do this at the beginning and document it in writing.

QUESTIONS:

Q. The doctor released me to go back to work, but I do not feel I am ready. I lost my job because I did not report for work. Is this right? A. Always ask the doctor for a dated back-to-work slip with any restrictions you may have. If you do not feel ready to go back to your job, tell your doctor and describe your job duties. If the doctor sends you to work anyway, follow his instructions, report to work and try to do your job. If you cannot do your job, tell your supervisor immediately. Your supervisor may be able to find restricted duty work for you or to help you modify your job so you can do it. Q. The doctor released me back to work on light duty, but the company said it had no light duty work and sent me home. Is that right? A. Yes. The company is not required to provide light duty work. You may stay home and continue to receive TTD, but you may be better off financially if you look for another job that you are able to do. When you are ready to return to your regular job, if the company is hiring, the company is required to offer you a job, if you are qualified and you apply. However, this is not a guarantee that your old job will be available. You can talk about this with your employer so you know what to expect and whether it might be better for you to look for another job or get some new training. Q. What if the doctor releases me to go back to work at full duty, but my employer has no work available now? Does he have to make a job for me? A. No. The employer is only required to give you a preference opportunity for a job that is available and for which you are otherwise qualified.

Federal laws affecting rehiring
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are two federal laws that might apply when there is a workers' compensation claim. The WCA has no jurisdiction over these federal laws and does not make any decisions about them. The ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees. It prohibits discrimination in hiring and requires employers to provide certain job accommodations and equal opportunity in promotion and benefits. The FMLA applies to employers who employ 50 or more employees for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar work weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. Some injured workers may qualify for protected family and medical leave under FMLA.

Published by the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration, a state agency. Laws can change. Check for new information by calling 1-866-WORKOMP or 1-866-967-5667 or look on the Internet at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us

__________________________________________________________

The Workers' Compensation Handbook for New Mexico Booklet B3: Going Back to Work _______________________________________

2007 Edition page 8

In New Mexico, the state agency that assists employers with information about the Americans with Disabilities Act is the Governor's Commission on Disability, 491 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe NM 87501; phone (505)476-0412. The U. S. Department of Labor provides information on these laws as well as other requirements for employers on its web site at www.dol.gov. Small business owners may also want to contact the Small Business Development Center at your local community college to find out about seminar programs on these subjects. Go to www.nmsbdc.org to find the location nearest you.

Education and training
Worker:
The New Mexico workers' compensation law does not require employers to provide any vocational rehabilitation or other educational benefits. But there are many other education and training resources around the state. If you are unable to return to work right away, you may qualify for free or low-cost educational services. Use your time off work to advantage by adding to your education. It will add to your ability to earn money when you return to work. If you can no longer work at your old job, this is a good time to learn a new skill. For help with information about programs in your community, contact your local high school or community college. If you have not graduated from high school, they can help you locate Adult Basic Education programs to prepare you for a GED (General Education Development) certificate or improve your reading and communication skills. The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions is the new name for the New Mexico Department of Labor. In some cases, a worker who is unable to go back to work might qualify for free training or education through the Workforce Connection, which is linked to this department. The Workforce Connection operates a number of One Stop Business Career Centers around New Mexico. Contact your local Department of Labor office for information about the center nearest to you. Training assistance from this agency is controlled by federal guidelines. In general, this department tries to place all workers back in the workforce and offers training assistance only if you have a long-term obstacle to getting back to work. It may take several weeks or months before a worker can be enrolled in a training program. The New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) is a state agency that provides vocational rehabilitation services for some individuals. To receive these services, the individual must be eligible under the criteria set by DVR. Workers' compensation claimants are considered under the same criteria as other applicants for DVR services.
__________________________________________________________

Published by the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration, a state agency. Laws can change. Check for new information by calling 1-866-WORKOMP or 1-866-967-5667 or look on the Internet at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us

The Workers' Compensation Handbook for New Mexico Booklet B3: Going Back to Work _______________________________________

2007 Edition page 9

DVR has offices throughout the state and also has representatives at some of the One Stop Business Career Centers. For more information, call the main office in Santa Fe, 954-8500, or toll free, 1-800-224-7005, or look in the blue pages (government agency listings) in your local telephone directory, under New Mexico state government.

Published by the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration, a state agency. Laws can change. Check for new information by calling 1-866-WORKOMP or 1-866-967-5667 or look on the Internet at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us

__________________________________________________________

The Workers' Compensation Handbook for New Mexico Booklet B3: Going Back to Work _______________________________________

2007 Edition page 10

Help from the Workers' Compensation Administration
(See the list of offices and telephone numbers on the back page of this booklet) Personal contact Contact an ombudsman. You can telephone or come in person to any WCA office around the state. (If you want to come in person, it's best to make an appointment.) Some ombudsmen speak Spanish. Use a local phone number or a FREE toll-free phone number. An ombudsman will talk to you informally and give you information about your rights. WCA publications
You can get publications from any office of the WCA. Go to an office or telephone to request publications by mail. Some WCA publications are available in Spanish.

Workbook for Injured Workers is a book written just for workers. It explains the claims process in a relatively simple, easy to understand way, telling you your rights and responsibilities. It contains forms that you can use to keep track of your claims. Employer's Guide to New Mexico Workers' Compensation is written just for employers and gives information addressed to the employer in a simplified format. The Workers' Compensation Handbook for New Mexico (the booklets in this series) are more detailed, containing more information than the Workbook for Injured Workers. These booklets are also available through the WCA web site. The Stay at Work/Return to Work Program Guide is written for employers and
contains model policies and practices to help employers minimize the need for workers to remain out of work.

WCA web site

www.workerscomp.state.nm.us

Look under Booklets for copies of the booklets you can read, download and print. Look under Employers or Workers for other information that might be useful for you. Look under News and Announcements for any new changes that might affect you.

Published by the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration, a state agency. Laws can change. Check for new information by calling 1-866-WORKOMP or 1-866-967-5667 or look on the Internet at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us

__________________________________________________________

The Workers' Compensation Handbook for New Mexico Booklet B3: Going Back to Work _______________________________________

2007 Edition page 11

This list shows new titles and numbering system that will be in effect when the 2007 revision is completed. Some booklets are eliminated and others are renumbered. There are some changes from the pre-2007 editions of the booklets.
To get the information you need: Contact any office of the Workers' Compensation Administration for printed copies OR All booklets can be downloaded from the Workers' Compensation Administration web site at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us

Workers' Compensation Handbook List of Booklets

Booklet Booklet Booklet Booklet Booklet Booklet

A1(E) A1(S) A2 A3 A4 A5

Workers' Compensation Quick Facts- English Compensación A Los Trabajadores Informes Básicos ( Spanish) Setting Up a Workers' Compensation Program The Workers' Compensation Coverage Guide for Employers and Insurance Agents Uninsured Employers' Fund Workers' Compensation Personnel Assessment Fee (WC-1)

Booklet B1 What to Do after an Accident Booklet B2 Benefits for Workers While They Cannot Work Booklet B3 Going Back to Work Booklet B4 Medical Care in Workers' Compensation (B5 and B6 will be discontinued) Booklet B7 Información del sistema compensativo para los empleados (Spanish) Booklet B8 Quick Facts for Health Care Providers Booklet C1 When you need help with a workers' compensation claim Booklet C2 What to Do In Response to "Bad Acts" (C3 through 5 will be discontinued) Booklet D1 Booklet D2 Annual Safety Inspections How to Develop a Safety Program (published by the Advisory Council on Workers' Compensation and Occupational Disease Disablement)

(On the web site, look under Employers)
E3 E4

Guide to Completing and Filing Paper Copy for Employers' First Report of Injury or Illness (Form E1.2) and Notice of Benefit Payment (Form E6.2) EDI Guide to Completing the Employers' First Report of Injury or Illness (Form E1.2) and Notice of Benefit Payment (Form E6.2) -- limited to certified electronic filers

Other publications

Health Care Provider Guide to New Mexico Workers' Compensation Guidebook for Employers in New Mexico (English and Spanish) Workbook for Injured Workers (English and Spanish) The Stay at Work/Return to Work Program Guide
Wcamjd 9/07

Published by the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration, a state agency. Laws can change. Check for new information by calling 1-866-WORKOMP or 1-866-967-5667 or look on the Internet at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us

__________________________________________________________

The Workers' Compensation Handbook for New Mexico Booklet B3: Going Back to Work _______________________________________

2007 Edition page 12

NEW MEXICO WORKERS' COMPENSATION ADMINISTRATION
STATE HEADQUARTERS Mailing Address: Workers' Compensation Administration PO Box 27198, Albuquerque NM 87125 Location: 2410 Centre Avenue SE (near Yale-Gibson intersection) In-state toll-free phone: 1-800-255-7965 Local phone 841-6000 REGIONAL OFFICES: Southeastern regional office at Lovington: 100 West Central, Lovington, NM 88260 Telephone: 575-396-3437 In-state toll-free phone: 1-800-934-2450 Southwestern regional office at Las Cruces: 1120 Commerce Drive, Suite B-1, Las Cruces, NM 88011 Telephone: 575-524-6246 In-state toll-free phone: 1-800-870-6826 Northwestern regional office at Farmington: 3535 East 30th Street, Farmington, NM 87401 Telephone: 505-599-9746 In-state toll-free phone: 1-800-568-7310 Northeastern regional office at Las Vegas : 2515-2 Ridge Runner Road, Las Vegas NM 87701 Moving in 2008 to: 32 New Mexico 65, Las Vegas NM 87701 Telephone: 505-454-9251 In-state toll-free phone: 1-800-281-7889 Roswell Office: Penn Plaza Bldg., 400 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Ste. 425, Roswell NM 88201 Telephone: 575-623-3781 In-state toll-free phone: 1-866-311-8587 Santa Fe Office: 810 West San Mateo, Suite A-2, Santa Fe, NM 87505 Telephone: 505-476-7381 Internet web site address: http://www.workerscomp.state.nm.us/ HELP & HOTLINE: 1-866-WORKOMP / 1-866-967-5667

mjdwca 1/08

Published by the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration, a state agency. Laws can change. Check for new information by calling 1-866-WORKOMP or 1-866-967-5667 or look on the Internet at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us

__________________________________________________________

The Workers' Compensation Handbook for New Mexico Booklet B3: Going Back to Work _______________________________________

2007 Edition page 13

Published by the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration, a state agency. Laws can change. Check for new information by calling 1-866-WORKOMP or 1-866-967-5667 or look on the Internet at www.workerscomp.state.nm.us

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