Early intervention in supportive employment is a proactive and effective approach that relies on the commitment from both management and the employee to communicate and engage with each other at the onset of an illness or injury. The union may also be involved where appropriate and/or at the employee’s request.
Benefits of early intervention include:
- reinforces that both the employee and management are working collaboratively in planning workplace accommodation requirements in a timely manner;
- demonstrating a supportive workplace environment that values effective communication
- engages individuals in return to work initiatives that can reduce the social and economic consequences of disability for both the employee and the workplace; and
- builds relationships, stimulates job satisfaction and employee engagement.
The employer and employee play a key role in facilitating open and respectful communication by working together to identify early and safe return to work initiatives.
When an employee reports the effects of the initial illness or injury as soon as possible to their manager or supervisor, they can receive the necessary support to remain at work or return to work in a safe and timely manner. In turn, management’s understanding of the employee’s functional abilities, medical status and their regular work demands in the early stages of disability will help to identify drivers and potential barriers for the evaluation of reasonable accommodation solutions.
Elements of successful supportive employment planning include:
- knowledge of legal requirements under The Manitoba Human Rights Code, collective agreements and applicable legislation
- open communication, which is built upon respect and trust in the employer’s ability to accommodate in a variety of ways (i.e. with modified or alternate duties)
- a team approach towards a successful return to work outcomes with the employee involved and actively participating in the process
- the availability of supports, resources and training