Having an employee on disability leave can be a challenging time for the employee as well as the employer. Issues include loss of productivity, uncertainty about the employee's ability to return to work, concerns about how long he or she will be out, and most importantly, concern for his or her well being. Principal Life has resources available to help guide you and your employees through many situations.
One work-related disabling injury costs an employer on average $48,000.1
We can help you:
- Determine if accommodations can be made to allow an employee to return to work while in a recovery phase.
- Brainstorm how to keep employees at work if they have difficulties performing their work due to an existing injury or disability. This may include recommendations regarding job modifications or ideas to streamline a process.
- Navigate your disability benefits.
When a Disability Happens
When a disability happens, you as the employer should:
- Provide the employee (or family member) the claim form or your telephonic claim submission number.
- Complete the first page of a paper claim form which includes pertinent employer information needed for the claim.
- Help your employee understand the importance of providing the claim form to his/her physician as soon as possible as medical information is needed for the evaluation.
- Keep communication lines open with employees while they are out. This helps them feel that they will be welcomed back once they recover.
- Be open to temporary or flexible work arrangements while employees are recovering. A gradual (or part-time) return to work allows employees the ability to return to their job more quickly while easing back into their normal duties. Our Work Incentive benefit is an excellent vehicle to help this work for everyone.
- Show concern and compassion while respecting the employee’s privacy. Keep the lines of communication open and avoid asking about specific private health matters. Feel free to talk about when they are coming back to work and if there are any schedule accommodations or special equipment needed for their return.
- Discuss appropriate actions with Principal Life’s claim examiner and/or vocational consultant.
Principal Life's vocational consultants help employees return to their own jobs, assist them with pursuing another line of work, or provide consultation regarding their vocational options and employability.
Before A Claim
If it becomes apparent that an employee is having difficulties performing some aspects of the job, we encourage you to contact us to see if our services could help keep the employee working at full capacity without filing a claim. For example, we might conduct an evaluation to suggest ways to make the workstation ergonomically correct, or possibly suggest adaptive equipment (i.e., a headset).
During a Claim
Most definitions of disability state that the person must be unable to perform the majority of the material duties of his or her own occupation during the first two years of the claim. In order for Principal Life to determine if employees meet this definition, we need to understand exactly what their jobs and occupations entail. We'll need your help in obtaining this information. A detailed written job description that explains the job and its physical requirements is helpful. You can use a Job Description Questionnaire (JDQ) form to provide this information. In some instances, we may contact you for more clarification about job duties or tasks.
We will work closely with you during the claim to determine the earliest time the claimant can return to work and any accommodations that may be needed. This benefits both you and your employee.
Our goal is for employees to return to work full time at their own occupation as soon as possible. If full-time work is not initially possible, our professionals will work with employers, employees and treatment providers to facilitate return to work options such as:
- Graduated return to full time
- Part-time return to work
- Modified duty
- Working with job accommodations or adaptive equipment
Sometimes, employees can't return to their own occupations due to disability factors. Vocational consultants work with employers to see if employees are qualified to perform other occupations at the site. If not, we determine if they have the skills to perform other occupations at another employer. Depending on this outcome, we might assist with:
- Resume development
- Job search skills
- Interview preparation
- Training resources
1 National Safety Council®, Injury Facts® 2010 Ed.
This is an overview of disability coverage offered by Principal Life. It is not an insurance contract or a complete statement of its provisions. If any provision presented here is found to be in conflict with federal or state law, that provision will be applied to comply with federal or state law. The group policy determines all rights, benefits, exclusions and limitations of the insurance described here.
EC 3857F - 12/2011
Content Last Updated: 12/12/2011