Pipeline What's New

Job Offers

ICPAs must comply with FECA regulations when making Pipeline Program job offers. Job offers must be made to a candidate in writing (a verbal offer is appropriate but must always be followed by a written offer within 2 business days) and must be offered as a permanent position unless the former position was temporary.

Job offers must state that the agency looked for suitable employment in or around the area in which the claimant currently lives. 20 CFR 10.508 - EA "should" offer suitable employment where the injured worker currently resides, if possible. Therefore the employing agency must offer positive evidence showing that such an offer is not possible or practical. - Robin Cox, Docket No 05-1153, issued October 18, 2005.

How Leadership Can Contribute

In most organizations, the belief is that little — if anything — can be done to change the processes in the workers' compensation system because of laws, regulations, rules and union contracts. However, workers' comp need not be an adversarial system. While the legal and other restrictions may seem like walls, agencies should instead look at their workers' compensation programs from the outside to see what they can do for injured workers so everyone benefits.

The biggest obstacles to returning injured workers to gainful employment have been: 1) available positions; 2) funding for those positions; and 3) resistance from managers and other employees. The Pipeline Program removes the first two obstacles, but what about the latter?

Some supervisors, for example, fear that if an injured worker returns before he/she is fully recovered, he/she might be re-injured, but allowing injured workers to stay at home may do them more harm than good. The Pipeline Reemployment Program provides an additional platform for the agency to use to counter this concern by requiring a physician’s written release allowing the employee to return to work with specific limitations that are based on the physician’s full knowledge of the employee’s job duties.

Additionally, co-workers may resent temporarily assuming more of the physically difficult duties. The leadership in the agency can counter this concern by pointing out that the return to work program is available for all injured employees, and that if that employee is injured, he or she will appreciate the assistance of co-workers during recovery. Be sure that all transitional assignments make meaningful contributions to the workplace.

Raise the Bar

Management can also “raise the bar” by ensuring that all key players in the process are doing things correctly. This will cut down on unnecessary time and expense in the workers' comp system.

Recommendations:

  • Train managers, employees and physicians involved in the process
  • Instead of asking doctors what the injured worker can't do, find out what he or she can do
  • Work to change perceptions about the perceived lack of power to improve the workers' comp system
  • Define what workers' compensation is really for
  • Explore attitudes among managers and employees
  • Raise the bar for all key players involved
  • Evaluate Program Performance
Augment Your Return to Work Program by:

  • Ensuring there is a written position description for your compensation program manager defining specific duties and responsibilities that align with the program’s performance objectives.
  • Provide on-going workers’ compensation training. Additional training is necessary to ensure the manager has the knowledge and skill necessary to fulfill the day-to-day responsibilities.
  • Ensure that written guidance is available to employees, supervisors, and managers outlining the steps that should be taken when an employee is injured.
  • Consider designating a “back-up” to handle the program’s day-to-day responsibilities while the manager is on leave or otherwise absent. It is important that the program’s continuity be maintained to ensure OWCP deadlines are met, and that open cases receive ongoing attention.
  • Ensure that written guidance is available to employees, supervisors, and managers outlining the steps that should be taken when an employee is injured.
  • Establish an internal control procedure to ensure that workers’ compensation cases are systematically reviewed for fraud indicators and, when appropriate, are referred for further investigation.
Presidential Memorandum - The Presidential POWER Initiative: Protecting Our Workers and Ensuring Reemployment

On July 19, 2010, President Obama established a 4-year Protecting Our Workers and Ensuring Reemployment (POWER) Initiative, covering fiscal years 2011 through 2014. The POWER Initiative will extend prior workplace safety and health efforts of the Federal Government by setting more aggressive performance targets, encouraging the collection and analysis of data on the causes and consequences of frequent or severe injuries and illness, and prioritizing safety and health management programs that have proven effective in the past. Under the POWER Initiative, each executive department and agency will be expected to improve its performance in seven areas:

  • •Reducing total injury and illness case rates;
  • •Reducing lost time injury and illness case rates;
  • •Analyzing lost time injury and illness data;
  • •Increasing the timely filing of workers' compensation claims;
  • •Increasing the timely filing of wage-loss claims;
  • •Reducing lost production day rates; and
  • •Speeding employees' return to work in cases of serious injury or illness.
Guidance from the Department of Labor on this new initiative was issued on September 21, 2010.

The Pipeline Reemployment Program assists agencies in meeting the challenge to reduce lost production days due to work related injuries and illnesses. Use of the Pipeline Program also significantly speeds the process of returning injured employees to light duty positions by providing over hire authority and funding for the entire first year of return to work.

Department of Defense
Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service
HR Operational Programs & Advisory Services
Benefits and Worklife Division
Injury Compensation & Unemployment Compensation Branch
4800 Mark Center Drive, Suite 05G21
Alexandria, VA 22350-1100

Commercial Phone: (571) 372-1663
FAX: (571) 372-1662
DSN Phone: 372-1663
DSN FAX: 372-1662

E-mail: ICUC Questions

E-mail: Pipeline Coordinator

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