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Returning to work

What is work reintegration?

Work reintegration, or WR, is the WSIB’s new approach to getting injured workers back to work after an injury.

Work reintegration replaced the old system of early and safe return to work and labour market re-entry (ESRTW/LMR). WR refers to the complete process of returning workers to work with their employer or preparing them to find a job with another employer in the labour market.  It includes all of the stages of return to work under the old system:  ESRTW, LMR and re-employment rights, where they apply. 

When did this change take effect?

Work reintegration came into effect on December 1, 2010.  As of September 2011, all eligible injured workers should be receiving services under this program. 

How is work reintegration similar to the ESRTW/LMR system?

Workers and employers have many of the same responsibilities under WR as they had under the old system. Workers and employers must co-operate in:    

  • early and safe return to work, and
  • work transition (formerly LMR)

Employers must also re-employ workers who have re-employment rights.  For more information, see Early and Safe Return to Work, Work Transition and Re-employment

How is work reintegration different than the ESRTW/LMR system?

Work reintegration differs significantly from the previous ESRTW/LMR system in the following ways:

Return to work with the injury employer is now the priority 

WR focuses on getting workers back to work with their employers, both in the short- and the long-term.  Under WR, the WSIB tries to find suitable and available work with the injury employer prior to exploring other options.

Workers may be retrained for a job with their injury employer

Under WR, it is now an option for workers to be retrained for suitable work with their employer that is different from their pre-injury job. See Work Transition for more information. 

The WSIB will play a more active role in the return to work process

If a worker is capable of some work and has not returned to work by the 12th week after the injury, a Return to Work (RTW) Specialist from the WSIB will meet with the worker and employer to develop a return to work plan. The WSIB will play an active role in monitoring return to work and providing advice to workers and employers.

Greater emphasis on accommodation in the workplace

The WSIB now emphasizes employer obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code to provide accommodations, or make changes to the workplace, to ensure that workers can do their job (or any suitable work offered) and remain in the workplace. 

Increased protections for worker benefits

The WSIB is now required to explain what will happen if workers do not return to work after the WSIB says they can do the job their employer offered.  The WSIB must explain this prior to reducing benefits. For more information, see Duty to Co-operate.  

What happens if I cannot return to my pre-injury job?

If you are able to return to work but cannot do your pre-injury job, you can ask your employer for an accommodation, or a modification, that will help you return to work. 

What kinds of accommodation can I get in order to help me return to work?

An accommodation is anything that helps to remove barriers to working.  Some examples include:

  • work station readjustments (such as providing a sit-stand stool)
  • technical aids (such as voice-activated software, hands-free head-set)
  • flexibility or changes in work schedules, or
  • job redesign (such as changing your job description to remove/add certain tasks) 

Accommodation is available in all stages of work reintegration.  The WSIB can order your employer to accommodate you in your return to work.  Your employer can only refuse to accommodate you if they can show that it would result in undue hardship. 

For further information about accommodation, please consult the resources on the Ontario Human Rights Commission website related to accommodation of disability. 

What happens if I cannot return to my pre-injury job with accommodation?

If you cannot do your pre-injury job even with accommodation, the WSIB will assign a Work Transition (WT) Specialist to your case to help develop a plan for your long-term return to work. 

The WT Specialist can arrange for a work transition assessment, in order to find a suitable occupation (SO) for you.  See Work Transition for more information. 

Can I appeal a WSIB decision on work reintegration?

Yes, but you must send an Intent to Object Form to the WSIB within 30 days of the date of the decision.  If you disagree with a decision by your Return to Work Specialist or Work Transition Specialist, it is a good idea to send the Intent to Object Form to the WSIB and explain why you disagree.  If you miss the 30 day deadline you can ask the WSIB for an extension.  See Appeal Time Limit Extensions: WSIB.

Important Information

This publication contains general information only. It is not legal advice about a particular situation and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified representative. This publication was last updated on the revision date listed below.

February 9, 2013