Vocational Rehabilitation – Programs and Services
Effective date: November 1, 2016
Application: Applies to all workers receiving vocational rehabilitation programs and services as of the effective date.
Policy subject: Return to work and vocational rehabilitation
To establish guidelines for vocational rehabilitation programs and services.
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.
- The Customer Care Facilitator (CCF) 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 CCF (as part of the customer care facilitator Team) will make a joint decision to begin vocational planning, with the goal of developing an Individualized Vocational Plan (IVP).
- The CCF 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)
- The VRS is responsible for providing the content of the IVP, but the CCF must be kept informed during its development.
- 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.
- 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.
- The employability assessment and transferable skills analysis must be completed by the VRS within 20 business days from the date the customer care facilitator Team decides to provide vocational rehabilitation services and the IVP within 12 weeks. These standards will be reviewed annually for any necessary revisions.
- 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.
- 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:
- The suitable short and long-term objectives for re- employment, including outcome measures and time frames for success.
- Labor market research for suitable occupations (where applicable).
- The selection of programs and services required to meet the vocational objectives.
- The worker’s responsibilities for successful completion of the IVP.
- The expectation that the worker will demonstrate active involvement in their own rehabilitation.
- 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).
- 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 04/2021, Travel Expenses – General) or relocation allowances (POL 02/2014, Vocational Rehabilitation – Moving Allowance).
- Ongoing entitlement to compensation benefits and an estimation of earnings potential (capacity).
- 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.
- The VRS will provide ongoing progress reports to the CCF.
- Where the VRS reports a worker is non-compliant with the vocational plan or absent from the program for any other reason, the CCF may suspend benefits in accordance with POL 10/2021, Suspension of Benefits.
- At the conclusion of the IVP, the VRS will provide a written Closure Report to the CCF, with the following information included:
- Documentation of the worker’s marks and/or certificates achieved through the program attended.
- If employment has been obtained, where the worker is employed, job title, current wages and yearly wage increments (if applicable).
- Where applicable, an Earnings Replacement Referral/Estimated Earnings Capacity Report (ER); and
- If the worker is not employed, the rationale as to why this has not occurred and any recommendations for earnings replacement.
- Where a worker has been considered employable, but has not obtained employment, the VRS will pay additional earnings loss benefits during a notice period in accordance with POL 11/2021, Terminating Benefits – Notice Period. Where the worker has chosen to relocate to seek or obtain confirmed employment, 8 to 12 weeks additional earnings loss benefits during a notice period will be provided (POL 02/2014, Vocational Rehabilitation – Moving Allowance).
- The Customer Care Facilitator (CCF) is ultimately responsible for the claim, but delegates authority to the VRS to approve IVPs with estimated or cumulative costs up to $50,000 as per ADM PRO 01/2022, Secondary Approval Levels.
- 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.
- 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:
- Vocational testing/assessment fees and expenses.
- Travel and sustenance expenses to attend employment or other vocational exploration interviews.
- Employment Skills Development Workshop expenses.
- Subject to the approval of the Team Leader, other unexpected expenses incidental to return to work planning or activities.
- 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.
(1) March 1, 2022. Housekeeping changes for minor updates including removal of references to secondary approval amounts.
(2) November 1, 2021. The term “job search benefits” updated for clarity to “earnings loss benefits during a notice period” as per POL 11/2021, Terminating Benefits – Notice Period.
(3) POL and PRO 01/2011, Vocational Rehabilitation – Programs and Services (effective February 1, 2011 to October 31, 2016).
(4) POL and PRO 06/2004, Vocational Rehabilitation – Programs and Services (effective August 1, 2004 to January 31, 2011).
(5) PRO 54/2000, Return to Work Plans by Vocational Services (effective August 1, 2000 to July 31, 2004).
POL 23/2016 Vocational Rehabilitation – Programs and Services
POL 10/2014 Allowance – Personal Care
POL 01/2018 Benefits – Long-Term Earnings Loss
POL 24/2016 Dependent Spouses – Initial Entitlement and Re-Employment Assistance
POL 04/2015 Modifications – Home, Vehicle, and Work
POL 10/2021 Suspension of Benefits
POL 11/2021 Terminating Benefits – Notice Period
POL 04/2021 Travel Expenses – General
POL 05/2004 Vocational Rehabilitation – Equipment and Tools
POL 02/2014 Vocational Rehabilitation – Moving Allowance
PRO 11/2014 Vocational Rehabilitation – Self-Employment Plans
ADM PRO 01/2022 Secondary Approval Levels (WCB Staff)