While the majority of people continue to practice the physical distancing and self-isolation that has been crucial over the past two months, how companies manage the absences of their employees has continued to evolve and adapt. We at WMC continue to monitor developments daily and are providing the following update.
What WMC Sees Right Now
There has been an increase in the number of COVID-19 claims in all business sectors, due to both quarantining requirements and confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses. Our STD Case Management team is closely monitoring these cases.
We are also seeing a slowdown in response time from all Workers Compensation Boards, making it challenging for our case managers to obtain decisions, responses, and documentation. WMC’s WCB Case Managers are continuously working to obtain the required information and will keep you updated as information is received.
Services Offered by WMC
Assistance with Policies
As always, WMC is available to help you with creating policies to handle employee absences due to COVID-19 diagnoses and/or adjacent quarantines, as well as formulating return-to-work strategies.
Introducing Three New Services
WMC is implementing these new services to assist employers:
- Telephonic COVID-19 Return-to-Work Assessment Service: With this program, WMC provides you with access to our qualified medical professionals who can assess and determine your employee’s fitness to return to work. If an employee is not cleared to return to work and a reassessment is required (i.e., in one to four weeks’ time), the follow-up assessment will be conducted by our Occupational Doctors.
Essential workplaces can benefit from this service immediately, as well as an employer who is planning for the eventual return of their employees to work. We encourage you to engage our return-to-work assessment service in the upcoming weeks to help smooth the return of employees back to the workplace.
- On-Site Temperature Checks and Interviews: WMC can send a member of our medical team to perform on-site temperature screens with a thermal thermometer and pulse oximetry readings for employees, customers, and visitors to detect signs or symptoms of COVID-19. This WMC team member will also ask questions from our developed health questionnaire to help determine if those seeking entry may be at risk of illness themselves, or of infecting others in the workplace.
- Qualitative and Quantitative Mask Fitting Services: We are able to provide this equipment and a WMC team member to conduct fittings, either at a WMC clinic or at your place of business.
What You Can Do to Strengthen Your Planning during COVID-19
Remember to update your WMC Case Managers on the outcome of any communications with employees, changes to return-to-work plans, or any accommodations being provided, as this is critical to the effectiveness of our claims management.
Absence Management Strategies
COVID-19 management is going to be a part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future. To deal with its challenges, it is essential to stay informed and flexible, and to foster open communication with employees.
- Communicate with Your Employees: How we behave directly affects corporate culture. This pandemic is significantly impacting employee physical and mental wellbeing, so communicate with employees to provide the support available through your wellness program, EAP, or wellness initiatives. Make sure that this includes those who are not working due to illness, injury, or layoffs.
- Be Strategic, and Ensure you Have a Plan: Plan for increased volumes of absences, both occupational and non-occupational. Think outside the box: can your employees work from home, or can shifts be staggered to allow more distance between workers? Once these plans are implemented, make sure that every employee (both currently working or not) is informed.
- Be Flexible: Temporarily relax your need for doctor’s notes. Have your employee health department conduct employee interviews and collect as much information as they can, or contact WMC to conduct a third-party assessment to obtain objective information). Where possible and/or appropriate, focus on early return-to-work planning (including accommodations).
- Get the Help you Need: Government legislation and pandemic requirements can be overwhelming. Also, the threat that COVID-19 poses can cause anxiety amongst your employees and their families, directly affecting employee attendance. If you need help in creating or managing your pandemic response plan, don’t hesitate to contact us.
On behalf of the WMC Disability Management Team, we remain committed to persevering together through this difficult time. Should you have any questions about our COVID-19 services, please do not hesitate to contact us.