Faculty/Staff Disability Management

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Chapter 5: Return to Work

UC Berkeley values its employees and their contributions; therefore, we must provide injured or disabled employees the opportunity to return to temporary or transitional work as soon as their condition permits.

Transitional work allows employees with temporary work restrictions to work in a modified, alternative, or reduced-hours capacity, for a defined period of time, while recuperating from an illness or injury. Not only can this program improve the health and morale of the injured employees, it can also have a positive impact on the department, as a whole, by improving morale and decreasing turnover.

As a supervisor, you play a very important role in the recovery of injured employees. One proven way of decreasing employees' recovery time is by allowing them to return to work with temporary work restrictions.  A shorter recovery period often results in a quicker return to regular job duties, which benefits both the employee and the department.

Contact with the Employee

Disability Management encourages contact between the supervisor and their employees during absences resulting from an injury or illness. The type, frequency, and content of the contact will vary depending upon the situation. For guidance concerning contact with injured employees, contact your HR Partner and Disability Managment.

Employees may have concerns about their work future; these concerns can interfere with recovery. Try to remain in contact with your employees. Keep your employees informed about what’s happening in the department. It’s important to communicate to your employees that you want them back at work as soon as is medically possible.

UC Berkeley’s Transitional Return to Work Program

The success of a transitional return-to-work program relies on the collaborative efforts between the employee and you. Both parties need to be a part of this process to ensure success. Guidance and documents can be found in the Transitional Work Program - Supervisor's Tool Kit.  The following is the typical Transitional Work process:

  • Treating physician releases employee to transitional/temporary work.
  • Treating physician provides work restrictions in writing to employee.
  • Employee provides work restrictions to supervisor.
  • Supervisor and employee engage in an “interactive” dialogue to discuss possible temporary job modifications, alternative work, and/or reduced-hours work.
  • Supervisor and employee determine start and end date of this Transitional Work Agreement.
  • Supervisor completes Transitional Work Agreement document once the details have been agreed upon.
  • Supervisor reviews Transitional Work Agreement with employee.
  • Supervisor reviews “Employee Information Sheet” with employee and gives a copy to employee.
  • Supervisor and employee sign and date Transitional Work Agreement.
  • Supervisor gives copy of signed Transitional Work Agreement to employee.
  • Supervisor keeps copy of signed Transitional Work Agreement in employee’s medical file, separate from employee’s regular personnel file.
  • Employee starts transitional work as agreed upon.
  • Supervisor should inform his/her HR Partner as to this Transitional Work Agreement.
  • Supervisor monitors employee’s work progress, as he/she does with his/her other employees.
  • Supervisor reviews the progress of the Transitional Work Agreement with employee at an agreed upon date (e.g., midpoint).
  • Supervisor and employee, at the conclusion of the Transitional Work Agreement, meet to discuss whether the plan should be terminated, extended, or altered.
  • Supervisor should contact Disability Management for assistance during any part of this process.