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    Danae Hammitt   
503-947-7018   


Employment Services Team

 

Purpose

To offer assistance to eligible Oregon injured workers, and to employers who employ or re-employ them, to help parties navigate the workers' compensation system, to resolve disputes, and oversee the administration of the Employer-at-Injury Program.

 

Responsibilities

Employer-at-Injury Program (EAIP): Provide consultation and oversight for insurer-administered program that provides incentives to employers who return their injured workers to temporary light-duty work while their claims are still open. Incentives include wage subsidies for up to 66-work days, worksite modifications, and certain purchases.

Preferred Worker Program (PWP): Administer and deliver direct services to eligible Oregon workers with injury-caused permanent disabilities and the employers who hire them. Incentives include exemption from paying workers' compensation premiums of the preferred worker for three years, claim cost reimbursement for new on-the-job injuries within the premium exemption period, six-month wage subsidies, worksite modifications up to $25,000, and employment purchases.

Vocational Assistance Dispute Resolution: Resolve disputes related to vocational assistance process, including eligibility determinations, appropriateness of vocational plans, and end of eligibility.

Benefit Consultation: Respond to inquiries from injured workers, insurers, employers, medical providers, and attorneys in an effort to resolve misunderstandings and differences which might otherwise result in sanctions or litigation.

Contested Cases: Facilitate the resolution of contested cases through mediation or hearing.
 

Functions

Re-employment specialists determine the eligibility of injured workers and employers for the program's benefits. The injured worker's medical and claim information is reviewed to determine if the worker meets eligibility requirements of the program. Employer eligibility for incentives is based on current workers' compensation coverage. Re-employment specialists review and approve wage subsidy contracts; tool, equipment, and clothing purchases; and payments for tuition, moving costs, and other purchases for the Preferred worker. The specialists also initiate reconsiderations and investigations and provide phone consultations for all parties regarding the above benefits. If a request is not approved, the specialist provides a letter of explanation to the requesting party. Specialists provide education and training to the public regarding re-employment assistance.

The worksite modification consultants specialize in worksite modification and provide consultation services for the worker, employer, insurer, and private rehabilitation counselor. Consultations can be on-the-job site or by phone, helping the employer and worker redesign worksites and selecting appropriate equipment. The consultants write and approve contracts and authorize payment for the modifications. Consultants also provide education and training to the public regarding re-employment assistance and worksite modification.

The majority of vocational reviewers' time is spent trying to prevent disputes. They schedule and convene conferences with insurers, workers, attorneys, and vocational counselors when return-to-work plans are not implemented within statutory timeframes. This enables the parties to identify obstacles and overcome those obstacles for return-to-work plans to be implemented, reducing the need for either party to file a dispute with the division.

Vocational reviewers also resolve disputes over vocational assistance eligibility and the type and extent of services provided. To resolve a dispute, reviewers use alternative dispute resolution skills and processes, including facilitating agreements via in-person, phone, and written negotiation, mediation, and education. Reviewers review file material and request additional information from the parties. They talk to workers, insurers, employers, trainers, medical providers, and others over the phone or in person and attempt to negotiate agreements. If the parties reach agreement, the reviewer issues a formal letter of agreement. If the parties reach an agreement not covered under the vocational assistance rules, the reviewer issues an order of dismissal. If the dispute is not resolved by agreement or dismissal, the reviewer completes an investigation, weighs the evidence, and renders a decision called a Director's Order. Director's Orders may be appealed to the Workers' Compensation Division and then to the Court of Appeals.

Vocational reviewers provide consultation and training to injured workers, vocational counselors, medical providers, insurers, attorneys, and the general public. Consultation and training address statutes, case law, rules, regulations, and policies to gain or clarify information relevant to the dispute or dispute resolution process.

The benefit consultants respond to general inquiries in person, over the telephone, or by letter, including written responses for signature by the administer, the director, a legislator, or the govenor. Workers' compensation issues related to injured worker benefits are usually resolved by letter or phone, but in some cases, the benefit consultants issue administrative orders.

The goal of the Contested Case Team is to facilitate resolution of contested cases. The team reviews and processes hearing requests on noncomplying employer orders, nonsubjectivity determinations, and civil penatly orders issued by the division. The team negotiates settlements and mediates issues between the parties. The contested case coordinator represents the division at administrative hearings and mediations before the Workers' Compensation Board.

The Employment Services Team has offices in Salem and Medford.
 

Primary governing rules

OAR 436-105: Employer-at-Injury Program
OAR 436-110: Re-employment Assistance Program
OAR 436-120: Vocational Assistance to Injured Workers
OAR 436: BCU and CC
 
For more information contact:
Return to work: 503-947-7588 or 800-445-3948 (toll-free)
FAX: 503-947-7581
eaip.oregon@state.or.us or pwp.oregon@state.or.us

Vocational Assistance: 503-947-7816 or 800-445-3948 (toll-free)
FAX: 503-947-7794
vocassist.oregon@state.or.us

If you have questions about this webpage, please contact Danae Hammitt, 503-947-7018.