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Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC)

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Handbook

Part 5


Part 5 - Vocational Rehabilitation Services

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Table of Contents

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1. Overview

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2. Transferable Skills Analysis

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3. Ergonomic Evaluation and Assistive Technology

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4. Vocational Evaluation and Testing

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5. Training

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Exhibit 1: On the Job Training (OJT) Memorandum of Agreement

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Exhibit 2: On the Job Training (OJT) Assessment

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1. Overview. There are a variety of professional services that a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (RC) may provide when working with an Injured Worker (IW) involved in the DFEC rehabilitation program. Although not exclusive, this Part of the handbook offers information on some commonly provided services. These descriptions provide both general and DFEC-specific guidance for the RC. Prior to initiating services the RC should always confirm that authorization has been received from the Rehabilitation Specialist (RS).

Note - A Labor Market Survey (LMS) is also considered a vocational rehabilitation service, but it is discussed in Part 8, Plan Development.

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2. Transferrable Skills Analysis. Transferrable Skills Analysis (TSA) is one of the tools used, along with a Vocational Evaluation and Labor Market Survey, to identify an IW's return to work options and wage-earning capacity. A TSA examines an individual's past employment history, education and experience to identify skills which may be immediately transferrable to new job tasks or job opportunities. The RC's recommendations in the TSA are the foundation for many vocational rehabilitation decisions impacting the rehabilitation plan and key actions by the RS and Claims Examiners (CEs).

a. Transferrable Skills – DFEC Determination While many government, compensation and disability determination organizations require TSA as part of their procedures, the definition and uses can differ. In general, transferrable skills are work competencies and knowledge obtained from past jobs, education, training or other life experiences which can be applied to alternate occupations consistent with an individual's functional capacities. The presence of adequate transferrable skills may speed transition to a new job. Specifically, under DFEC policy,

(1) Transferrable skills are considered to be any skills acquired during any activity in one's life – previous jobs, military experience, education/training, projects, parenting, volunteer work, hobbies, etc. – which may be relevant and transferrable for use in a new job. While the primary focus is generally placed on skills garnered during past employment, other life experiences may also be pertinent and should be considered.

(2) There is no time limitation for the currency of educational or work skills, and they do not expire after a set number of years. The important thing is to take a practical view of the IW's skills and determine whether they may be relevant to positions which exist in today's labor market even if a refresher may be needed.

(3) An analysis of transferrable skills is relevant when pursuing work with either the previous or new employer.

b. Previous Employer – Transferrable Skills Consideration. An informal analysis of transferrable skills should be used when pursuing a return to work with the IW's previous employer. This process is most often a less technical and more functional consideration of the IW's skills and abilities and how these may transfer to alternate tasks or positions within the employing agency (EA). For example, an IW whose date of injury position consisted mainly of manual labor may have prior administrative experience which could be used to identify other, more sedentary, positions available within the EA for which the IW may qualify. This is generally an exploratory process and requires discussion including both the IW and the EA.

Usually a formal TSA report is not required in the Placement – Previous Employer (PPE) status unless requested by the RS. However, the RC should include general information in the monthly report. This process may facilitate the IW's return to work by:

(1) Identifying alternate work duties or temporary positions while a return to full or permanent duty is pending or being assessed.

(2) Identifying transitional duties or positions which may foster an earlier and/or gradual return to work.

(3) Identifying alternate permanent positions that would accommodate the necessary work restrictions, and that the IW could perform with or without short-term training.

(4) Evaluating whether alternate positions are suitable and compatible with the IW's vocational qualifications.

c. New Employer – Transferrable Skills Analysis. A formal TSA will be required when the IW will be pursuing placement with a new employer (PNE) either immediately or after intermediate services such as retraining. In this instance, standard TSA methods and formal reporting are required.

(1) TSA Methods. There are a variety of accepted methods and tools – both manual and computer-based – which are used in the field of vocational rehabilitation to perform TSAs. DFEC typically leaves the choice of TSA method to the RC's discretion as the vocational expert, under the RS's direction. The RC should use a comprehensive approach to generate the most current and relevant occupational options. This will foster effective career decision making with the IW and efficient case management by DFEC staff. The RC must fully describe the TSA method and references used in the TSA report.

While much of the TSA method and process is left to the RC's discretion, programmatic guidelines should be followed related to suitability of occupations and reporting context, language and format.

(2) TSA Resources – DOT and Others. DFEC requires that occupational recommendations of the TSA are presented primarily in the context of the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), its job descriptions and worker traits (DOT Code and Title, Physical Demand Components, Working Conditions, and Specific Vocational Preparation).

(a) The DOT was last updated in 1991. Since that time, some jobs may have become obsolete, others have changed due to advances in business and technology and yet other occupations are new and emerging. As such, there may be occupational gaps and/or differences between jobs as described in the DOT and those same jobs as they are currently performed.

More specifically, a particular job described in the DOT may have developed over time to utilize different levels of physical demand, skills and experience. Current requirements for strength, Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP), or General Educational Development (GED) may vary from the DOT description. There may currently be sub-sets within that DOT job title which are now performed at various levels of physical demand and with varying degrees of skill/education. For example, while Security Guard is listed in the DOT as light work, semi-skilled with an SVP of 3, there are current Security Guard jobs which are also performed as sedentary and unskilled. It largely depends on the employer and the duties. A Ticket Seller job listed in the DOT as light (L) may, in today's world, also have a sub-set of jobs which are sedentary (S) due to the use of computer technology.

(b) Traditionally, vocational rehabilitation professionals have relied heavily on the DOT database in the TSA process. However, as the DOT ages and the transition to the Occupational Information Network (O*Net) continues, those in the field of vocational rehabilitation acknowledge the increasing challenge of using the DOT as the sole resource to make accurate recommendations for IWs in today's labor market. As such, while use of DOT codes and descriptors are necessary in FECA TSAs and plan development, RCs are encouraged to use O*Net and other supplemental sources of information, as needed, to ensure accurate and up-to-date occupational recommendations.

There are a variety of books, studies and resources available to assist RCs with TSAs in these changing times. The Transitional Classification of Jobs (Field and Field, 2004, 6th edition, Elliott and Fitzpatrick, Inc., publishers) is one such resource which bridges the DOT and O*Net. The O*Net website also provides a "cross-walk" feature for the DOT and other occupational databases. Not exclusively, additional resources which RCs may want to refer to include: Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, America's Career InfoNet, state One-Stop and workforce development sites, employer websites, etc.

(c) The RC's own observations, as recognized vocational experts, are also extremely valuable when making occupational recommendations. Reliable information gathered through familiarity with local labor markets; direct contact with employers, workforce development staff and applicable others; job shadowing; and/or site visits and job analyses should be included in the RC's recommendation and TSA report. This information along with occupational databases and resources previously discussed create a strong foundation for effective occupational recommendations for DFEC's Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

(d) Points to Remember:

(i) RCs have the flexibility to use both DOT and other resources to ensure that occupational recommendations are both appropriate for the IW and accordant with the current labor market.

(ii) If the RC recommends a job which is performed differently than the DOT description, the RC must explain that difference in the TSA report and include supporting documentation. The RC should also discuss how the position (with those differences) is suitable for the IW.

(3) The TSA Report. The purpose of the TSA report is to document the process, outcomes and recommendations from the TSA and to provide useful information that will guide the next steps to be taken in the rehabilitation process.

While the body of the report may contain technical information related to the DOT or other resources, the narrative should be written in lay terms easily understood by those who are not rehabilitation professionals. As with the TSA, the report format will be left to the RC's discretion but the report is expected to contain the elements listed below and a concise narrative justifying recommended choices.

(4) Elements to be included/addressed in the TSA report.

(a) IW's name and OWCP case file number

(b) Method used for TSA (e.g. computer program, manual, etc.)

(c) Resources/references used (DOT, O*Net, etc.)

(d) IW's disability and relevant medical conditions

(e) IW's documented work tolerance limitations and work restrictions

(f) Employment history and previous jobs profile/summary

(g) Nonwork-related, relevant activities summary that may include volunteer work or hobbies

(h) Transferrable Skills identified (both employment and nonwork-related)

(i) Occupations to which skills transfer – Job Title and description

(j) DOT code, job description, Physical Demand, SVP, and any other applicable characteristics, and if the job is different than the DOT description, an explanation of the differences. (This information may be included on the Job Classification Form, OWCP-66.)

(k) O*Net code and relevant information, if used

(l) Relevant information from other sources, as applicable

(m) Concise narrative, using lay language, to describe and justify occupational recommendations

(n) Description of how the selected occupations are medically and vocationally suitable

(o) Description of how the IW is qualified for the recommended occupations based on existing skills, education and experience

(p) Discussion of any additional recommendations for training or additional rehabilitation services, if necessary

(5) TSA Follow-Up. Upon TSA completion, the RC should discuss the report promptly with the IW to facilitate plan development. Unless otherwise directed by the RS, the TSA should be included in the rehabilitation plan that is forwarded to the RS for consideration. All parties should discuss results and recommendations and determine how to proceed with the next steps in the rehabilitation process. This should include a labor market survey to further explore one or more occupational arenas, wage-earning capacity, and/or other rehabilitation services, as appropriate.

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3. Ergonomic Evaluation and Assistive Technology. Ergonomic and Assistive Technology (AT) Evaluations are additional services that may be provided by the RC to facilitate an IW's successful return to work with a previous or new employer. These evaluations may aid both the IW and the employer with practical solutions to challenges that a worker with a disability may experience with the work site, equipment or work tasks. In addition, information gained may assist in determining whether a job is suitable and/or whether it may become suitable with accommodations.

These evaluations are often performed together, but may be requested separately as appropriate. Both are interactive processes which usually involve the RC making at least one on-site visit to the employer to evaluate needs and following up with all parties involved to discuss recommended equipment and accommodations.

a. Definitions.

(1) Ergonomic Evaluation. Assesses a worker's work-station and work environment in relation to his/her disability and physical capacities to ensure that furniture, equipment and processes are designed to minimize impact of disability or injury and maximize productivity. Ergonomic recommendations may include such things as lifting or lowering a computer screen, an adjustable office chair, an ergonomic keyboard, brighter lighting, and/or the worker's ability to stand/stretch at intervals.

(2) Assistive Technology Evaluation. Assesses a worker's work-station, environment and specific work tasks involved with the job to determine whether there are devices which would allow a worker with a disability to perform the job as effectively as his/her non-disabled peers. Assistive technology includes any items, equipment or products that individuals with disabilities can use to perform work or other tasks that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. Recommendations may be low-tech or high-tech, depending on the disability and needs of the worker. These may be as simple as a thicker pen or pencil for someone with arthritis or as complex as screen-reading software for a worker with a visual impairment.

b. Types of Referrals. Assistive Technology and Ergonomic Evaluations may be requested with previous or new employers for the reasons outlined below.

(1) Previous Employer.

(a) Evaluate whether the right equipment or accommodations may support an IW's earlier return to full duty, light or modified duty, or a gradual return to work.

(b) Obtain recommendations for accommodations to support the IW upon return to work, to minimize the impact of the disability/injury.

(c) Clarify or evaluate whether a certain job is compatible with an IW's current work restrictions, with or without accommodations.

(d) Assess whether an IW may be able to do a different job in the same EA with the right accommodations and equipment.

(e) Determine whether a telework employee has the appropriate work space and equipment to do the job safely and effectively.

(f) Discuss assistive technology and accommodations with the EA to address any questions or concerns.

(2) New Employer.

(a) Evaluate prior to starting a new job whether assistive technology or accommodations are needed in order for the IW to work or do a certain type of job.

(b) Assist the IW with effective job search preparation by accessing needed assistive technology ahead of time and preparing to discuss accommodations with a new employer.

(c) On the job, assess whether the IW needs equipment or accommodations to navigate the new work site or to do the job effectively.

(d) Assist with problem-solving if concerns arise about the IW's ability to do specific tasks and see if accommodations or assistive technology are needed.

(e) Assess whether a specific job is suitable and compatible with an IW's work restrictions.

(f) Discuss assistive technology and accommodations with employers to address any questions or concerns.

c. Evaluation Process. The RC may perform these services and/or may utilize the services of other qualified professionals as appropriate. While the request for the evaluation may be made by the IW, the RC, the employer or other DFEC staff, the RC should ensure that authorization from the RS has been received prior to initiating service.

The RC, with authorization from the RS, may also be able to facilitate purchase of assistive technology or ergonomic devices that are needed and recommended for use on the job. The RC should discuss the process with the RS as needed.

d. Assistive Technology and Accommodations Information. As employers often have questions or concerns related to provision of accommodations or cost of equipment, the RC should be prepared to discuss and address these issues and to provide resources for further information if needed, such as:

(1) Job Accommodation Network, http://askjan.org/

(2) ADA home page, http://www.ada.gov/

(3) Office of Disability Employment Policy, www.dol.gov/odep

(4) Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN), http://www.askearn.org/

(5) Computer and Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP), http://www.cap.mil/, (for Federal employers)

Note - Many accommodations are low cost and high impact, and there is frequently little to no cost to employers for accommodating employees with disabilities. It is important to remember that DFEC will pay the cost of accommodations needed by an IW.

e. Report. Reporting requirements for Ergonomic and Assistive Technology evaluations may vary based on the purpose of the assessment. At times, it may be sufficient to provide results and recommendations of the evaluations as part of the monthly RC report. On other occasions, such as when a job suitability determination is being made based on the results, a more formal, separate report may be necessary. The RC should discuss reporting needs with the RS on a case-by-case basis.

f. Follow-up. The RC should forward recommendations from the evaluation to the IW and RS as quickly as possible in the previously agreed upon format. Subsequently, all parties should discuss how to best implement any recommendations and expediently proceed with rehabilitation services.

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4. Vocational Evaluation and Testing. Along with other services such as Transferrable Skills Analysis, Labor Market Survey and counseling and guidance, vocational evaluation and testing may be an integral part of the rehabilitation process.

Vocational evaluation combines an interview of the IW and, if needed, one or more tests and/or work samples which explore the individual's work-related skills, aptitudes and/or interests. Subsequently, the information is used to make recommendations for jobs or occupations to pursue, training and/or other services which will assist with rehabilitation planning and job placement.

a. Referrals.

(1) Placement - Previous Employer (PPE). Vocational evaluation may be utilized to assist the IW to return to work with the previous employer through exploring or confirming skills which may transfer to alternate jobs within the EA as well as identifying short-term training which may qualify the IW for these other positions.

(2) Placement - New Employer (PNE). When placement with the previous employer is not possible, vocational evaluation is usually required to assist with the planning process for placement with a new employer. Vocational evaluation is required for rehabilitation plans which include a training component.

(3) Referral documentation. The RC will receive instruction and authorization from the RS to facilitate vocational evaluation services. Authorization is generally provided by the RS via an approved Form OWCP-16, Rehabilitation Plan and Award, or may be provided otherwise as appropriate.

b. Waiver of services. The RS may waive vocational evaluation services at his/her discretion if:

(1) The IW has already demonstrated skills and experience needed to attain a new job or vocational goal.

(2) The IW has already demonstrated skills needed to perform successfully in a selected, short-term training program or a short period of remedial education (not to exceed 6 months) if, for example, the IW has a earned a recent Associates or Bachelor's degree.

c. Examiner Qualifications. Vocational evaluation testing must be performed by a qualified examiner such as a licensed psychologist, Certified Vocational Evaluator (CVE), Professional Vocational Evaluator (PVE) or other qualified professional as approved by DFEC. It is preferred that vocational testing be provided by an outside vendor rather than the RC, or the RC's firm, especially when comprehensive testing is needed. However, if extenuating circumstances exist such that the assigned DFEC-certified RC is the only qualified evaluator available, he or she may be authorized by the RS to provide testing.

Any Provider who performs vocational testing must be qualified and certified, where necessary, to administer the testing instruments that they use and should practice only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, appropriate professional experience and other professional credentials. The DFEC-certified RC, under the guidance of the RS, has the responsibility to identify who can most appropriately provide any necessary testing. Qualifications of the tester should be documented in the file.

d. Vocational Evaluation Content. Vocational evaluations may vary in content and length based on the information requested, and they must always be individualized based upon the IW's capabilities. Standard, reliable, accepted tests and methods should be used. Unless otherwise directed by the RS or RC, the qualified examiner should make recommendations for the tests and evaluation methods which are most appropriate to each situation.

The RC should facilitate the evaluation and testing process by providing the qualified examiner with thorough referral information and DFEC reporting requirements. It is also beneficial for the RC to be as specific as possible with the examiner about the information needed from each evaluation in order to ensure that the testing methods and recommendations are specific and relevant to each IW and his/her occupational plan development.

(1) Vocational evaluations should always include a thorough intake interview of the IW and review of any records provided with the referral. The IW's medical and disability information, documented functional capacities and work tolerance limitations, personal, work and educational history must be taken into account.

(2) Assessments may include such things as educational achievement, learning ability and learning style, vocational aptitudes and interests, measures of IQ, evaluation of temperament and personality, transferrable skills analysis and work samples.

(3) Referrals for limited vocational assessment may be made for testing of one or more specific employment-related skills or tasks (e.g. typing and computer skills).

e. The Vocational Evaluation (VE) Report. The RC should ensure that the final report provides comprehensive information which is relevant to the referral. The report should contain raw scores as well as a narrative which interprets the results in a manner comprehensible to the IW and other non-rehabilitation professionals. Vocational recommendations must be specific and include realistic vocational options as well as suggestions for other possible services or supports needed to achieve a return to work (e.g. pre-vocational or vocational training, remedial academics, ergonomic or assistive technology assessment, assistance with job readiness and job placement, job accommodations or modifications, etc.). Specifically, VE reports should usually contain the following:

(1) IW's name and OWCP case file number

(2) Review of IW interview and relevant medical, work and personal history

(3) Work tolerance limitations and work restrictions

(4) Listing of tests and assessments given

(5) Raw data and/or test scores from all tests (e.g. educational testing must specify grade equivalent scores, aptitude and interest testing must include specific results, etc.)

(6) Copies of test reports and work samples results

(7) Vocational recommendations with suggested job titles and DOT codes, if applicable

(8) Concise narrative in lay language which interprets the test results and explains vocational recommendations

The report is due to the RC promptly upon completion of the evaluation for discussion of results with the IW during the plan development process. Unless otherwise directed by the RS, the RC should include and forward the report as part of the proposed plan.

If an RC receives a VE report without all elements included, he/she may advise the qualified examiner that the bill for service will not be paid unless all required information is submitted. If the RC is authorized to perform the assessments, these considerations also apply and the RS will ensure that the bill for service will not be paid unless all required information is submitted.

f. Vocational Evaluation Follow-Up. Once the final report is received by the RC, it should be discussed promptly with the IW to facilitate plan development. Unless otherwise directed, the RC should include the VE report and information in the rehabilitation plan forwarded to the RS for review. A subsequent conference should be scheduled promptly to discuss recommendations and determine and initiate the next phase of the rehabilitation process.

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5. Training. Training may be facilitated by the RC, in appropriate situations, as a part of the vocational rehabilitation process of developing or enhancing skills in preparation for job placement with a previous or new employer.

a. Previous Employer and Training. When pursuing employment with the previous employer, training may be used to strengthen, update or enhance the IW's skills in preparation for new work tasks or a new position in his/her Federal agency.

Usually, the training will be short-term and targeted to a specific position (e.g. typing or computer skills for an administrative position, introductory bookkeeping to work in the accounts payable office, etc.).

In this circumstance, a training plan will not normally be required and the prerequisites for the training and documentation required will vary based upon the individual case. The RC should discuss any training possibilities with the EA and the RS throughout the PPE process.

b. Training for a New Employer. When pursuing work with a new employer, training may be utilized to enhance a worker's skills so that he/she may be more competitive in the current labor market. As always, the focus is to prepare for employment that is consistent with the IW's work restrictions and actual wage-earning capacity.

(1) For a new employer training, there are usually testing prerequisites and a formal training plan must be submitted.

(2) Training for work with a new employer may be appropriate in the following circumstances:

(a) The IW has limited competitive, transferrable skills in the local labor market.

(b) There will be a significant wage deficit between the IW's earnings at previous employment and his/her potential salary with a new employer which will be ameliorated in whole or part by training.

(c) A period of training will enhance the IW's job readiness and/or employability.

(d) There is reason to believe that the IW will have significant difficulty with placement unless he/she has training.

(3) Generally, short-term (six months or less) or pre-vocational training options that would serve to upgrade basic skills are preferred. Longer-term training plans are pursued as a last resort, since returning the IW to work and decreasing the period of disability is a primary focus of vocational rehabilitation. Any proposed training program must be compatible with the IW's abilities and limitations, and must prepare him/her for suitable jobs that are available in the local labor market. The cost of the proposed training plan should be justifiable in view of the resulting increase in the IW's wage-earning capacity.

The IW's motivation level and interest in the proposed training and/or personal desire to pursue a particular type of training are important factors in the decision-making process but may not be outweighed by DFEC program requirements. For example, an IW may be highly motivated and interested in pursuing an Associate's degree in Accounting when a shorter-term certificate program in Bookkeeping will provide the necessary skills to meet the IW's wage-earning capacity in their local labor market.

c. Maintenance during Training. If authorized, IWs may receive maintenance payments or reimbursement for some costs associated with training (e.g. gas, parking, lunch, etc.), up to a maximum of $46.15 per week, not to exceed $200.00 per month [see 5 USC 8111(b)]. The RC should discuss necessary costs and submit a request for maintenance along with the training plan as appropriate.

d. Training Prerequisites. Often, prerequisites to the training plan will include vocational testing, TSA and a labor market survey.

These services are needed to:

(1) Determine whether training is necessary and appropriate.

(2) Identify target training and occupational goals.

(3) Establish whether the IW has the necessary skills and aptitudes to successfully complete training and perform the targeted job(s). If vocational evaluation or testing was not performed, detailed rationale in support of the IW's ability to complete the training should be provided.

(4) Determine prevailing wages.

(5) Confirm whether the job(s) are reasonably available in the IW's commuting area.

Note - There must be adequate evidence suggesting that the IW can successfully complete training and obtain employment at completion of the training plan.

e. The Training Plan. After testing and/or TSA and Labor Market Survey (LMS) services are completed, the RC will work with the IW to develop a training plan and will submit it to the RS for consideration.

(1) The plan must include all comprehensive costs for tuition/fees, books/supplies, anticipated maintenance and any other training related expenses as well as other forms and items noted below. The plan must also include a concise, narrative justification of the plan goal, the need for and type of training and anticipated employment and wage earning capacity outcomes. (See Part 7 of this handbook for more information regarding Plan Development.)

(2) Plans should be submitted to the RS at least four weeks prior to the expected start date of training to allow time for review. If the time requirement cannot be met, the RC must contact the RS to discuss the situation and determine whether expedited authorization for training may be approved.

(3) Under no circumstances may a training plan be implemented without RS approval.

(4) The plan should include the following:

(a) Form OWCP-16 (or DFEC specified equivalent), Rehabilitation Plan and Award.

(b) Concise, narrative justification of goals, training and anticipated outcomes.

(c) At least two (three if possible) OWCP-66 Job Classification Forms identifying job goals, physical requirements of the positions and wages.

(d) Results of TSA, LMS and vocational testing unless already provided to the RS.

(e) Form OWCP-24 (or DFEC specified equivalent), Vendor Authorization.

(f) Training facility's accreditation information (for vocational and college plans).

(g) Training program graduates' employment success rate (for vocational and college plans, as available).

(h) Any additional OWCP forms or documents requested by the RS.

(i) If appropriate, the Individual Rehabilitation Placement Plan may also be requested along with the training plan.

All forms should be completed and submitted, along with other required information, to the RS.

(5) If the plan is accepted and approved, the RS will sign and return it along with a Status Report (OWCP-3 or DFEC specified equivalent) which will give the RC any additional instructions. In some circumstances, the Rehabilitation Plan Cover Letter (OWCP-23 or DFEC specified equivalent) which provides instructions for completing the maintenance request will also be included.

(6) If modifications are requested and/or the plan is not approved, the RC will be notified by the RS expeditiously, but minimally on the Status Report.

f. Types of Facility-Based Training. The type of training recommended and plan developed will be based on results of testing and the occupational goal(s) identified. Training that may be considered include pre-vocational training, vocational/technical training, college, and On-the-Job Training (OJT).

(1) Training Facilities. Either public or private training institutions may be used. The RC should look first for public facilities receiving Federal or state funds. Among facilities which provide similar credentials, the time and cost of acquiring the needed skills or certificate should be compared. The location of the facility should be within commuting distance of the IW's residence. Only when the plan requires training not locally available, should a more distant facility be considered as a last resort.

(2) On-line training which is sponsored by an accredited public or private training or educational institution may be considered and utilized if the on-line option is appropriate to, and consistent with, the needs, training plan and vocational goal of the IW. On-line training must be consistent with general training requirements in this section including length of programming and cost considerations. The on-line option should provide a benefit at least equal to that of facility-based training in terms of quality, student support, skills enhancement and certification or degree outcome. If authorized by the RS, on-line training may be used either as the sole training avenue or in combination with facility-based training, as appropriate.

(3) Pre-vocational Training. This type of training is short-term and serves to upgrade basic skills such as literacy, but is not necessarily aimed at a specific occupation. For example, a GED preparation course and test would be considered pre-vocational training. Other examples include ESOL (English as a Second Language) to improve language skills or a course that upgrades basic computer skills needed for many office jobs. Pre-vocational training can either prepare IWs for jobs existing in the labor market or can prepare them for more in-depth training.

Work adjustment and personal/social adjustment programs may also be considered under pre-vocational training. These programs assist the IW with developing work skills, work habits and job retention skills required to obtain and maintain successful employment. They may include activities to improve and increase attendance, punctuality, productivity and the ability to work with others. This type of training may be appropriate when an IW has been out of the job market for a significant period of time and/or when a disability or other issue(s) creates additional challenges in terms of a transition back to work.

The maximum amount of time for pre-vocational trainings is normally six months unless otherwise authorized.

The above training programs must be provided at certified and accredited training or rehabilitation facilities such as community colleges, or community programs such as Easter Seals, Goodwill, etc.

During pre-vocational training the RC may work with the IW as necessary to provide additional counseling and assistance in areas such as study skills, resume writing, interview practice and other job readiness skills. The limit for this activity is 2 professional hours per month. The cost is charged against the initial authorization (Form OWCP-35 or DFEC specified equivalent). Requests for additional time or professional hours will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

(4) Vocational-Technical Training. This type of training is normally provided through community colleges, businesses, trade schools or apprenticeships and may include training for administrative, technical, clerical, agricultural, skilled or semi-skilled occupations.

As always, shorter-term trainings should be considered first. A certification program requiring several weeks or months of training is preferable to a multi-year program. Refresher courses for expired certifications may also be considered (e.g. health care related fields).

Training programs with internship or practicum components are strongly encouraged due to opportunity for real-world, hands-on experience which may enhance the IW's resume and assist with employment connections.

Vocational-technical or business school trainings should be no longer than two years. Training facilities/programs must be post-secondary education accredited and RCs must include accreditation information in the plan. The RC should also include the number of students in the program, number of annual graduates and employment success rates as well as the average wage of graduates, if available.

(5) College. College training plans are considered only in rare circumstances if the IW shows significant academic ability and there is a very high probability of employment with minimal or no loss of wage-earning capacity upon completion of the program. College plans will usually not exceed two years.

College plans must include strong justification and specific recommendations from a qualified Vocational Evaluator, testing psychologist or other applicable professional(s).

As with vocational training programs, college programs with internship or practicum components are strongly encouraged due to opportunity for real-world, hands-on experience which may enhance the IW's resume and assist with employment connections.

College facilities must be accredited and RCs must include this information in the plan. The RC must also indicate the number of students in the program, graduation and employment success rates, as well as the average wage of graduates.

g. Time Extensions. With RS approval, an IW may be granted a time extension, usually not to exceed one semester or marking period, when necessary due to circumstances outside the IW's control and when the extra time will ensure completion of the program. Further extensions may be considered on a case-specific basis with the authorization of the RS, but are not guaranteed.

The RC should contact the RS immediately when it becomes apparent that an extension is needed. The RS will consider the request, in consultation with the CE, and promptly advise the RC and IW of the decision in writing on either Form OWCP-3 (or DFEC specified equivalent) or by memo.

h. RC Responsibilities during Training. Monthly contacts should total a minimum of ½ hour, but no more than 2 hours per month unless otherwise authorized by the RS. The RC is responsible for:

(1) Facilitating an effective training plan with the IW.

(2) Contacting the IW and educational/training facility in person during the first week of the program, four weeks in, at mid-point and prior to the program completion date. If the IW is enrolled at a facility more than 50 miles from the RC's location, the RS will provide separate instructions regarding visits. The RC should advise the RS when it is determined that the distance limit will be exceeded.

(3) Maintaining regular communication, as authorized, with the IW and facility throughout the duration of the training to track status, provide support as needed, assist with problem solving and to increase probability of a successful outcome.

(4) Regularly obtaining information about attendance, participation, general progress and grades. Information should be obtained at least monthly unless otherwise deemed appropriate and reported to the RS on a monthly basis in the RC's monthly reports.

(5) Accessing and submitting copies of official transcripts and progress reports to the RS, attached to the monthly report, within two weeks after the end of each grading period. General progress may be reported on the RC's monthly reports.

(6) Alerting the RS immediately to any problems, changes or non-cooperation which may impact successful completion of training. See paragraph j.(8) below for more information regarding non-cooperation.

i. IW Responsibilities during Training. The IW is responsible for:

(1) Full cooperation and attendance in the planned training/educational program.

(2) Maintenance of a "C" average and/or otherwise satisfactory grades and performance ratings.

(3) Providing the RC with an objective means to obtain regular information throughout the semester/term. This may include providing the RC with permission to speak with instructors/administrators at the facility, providing on-line access to grades and reporting, or other arrangements as appropriate. Information that should be made available to the RC includes the following:

(a) Attendance

(b) Participation

(c) General progress

(d) Need for concern or intervention

(e) Grades during semester/term (not only final grades)

(f) A copy of formal grades and progress reports each semester/term or as released

(4) Reporting to RC, as early as possible, any changes, questions, problems or concerns, or personal situations which may impact the training program

j. On-the-Job Training (OJT). OJT is another option for increasing the employability of the IW. OJT may be used when an IW will benefit from shorter-term training that can best be provided in the community as an on-site, work-based learning experience. A DFEC OJT may be viewed as an internship opportunity which will build work skills and other factors which increase the likelihood of future hire including current experience, references, and an expanded network of possible job contacts. As an internship, each OJT must meet the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (see paragraph 7 below).

OJT should not be confused with the DFEC Assisted Reemployment program which is available for workers who are already qualified for targeted positions and DFEC reimburses a portion of the IW's wages to the employer.

(1) OJT Program. In the OJT program, a business agrees to provide unpaid, hands-on job training for a specified period of time. The business does not hire the trainee during the OJT, but may choose to make an offer upon successful completion of the OJT. The IW participates in the OJT to learn real-world work and job-readiness skills to build qualifications for future paid employment.

While it is not mandatory for the business providing the OJT to hire and retain the IW at successful completion of training, the RC and IW may discuss and ask the business if they may be in a position to hire at the end of the training.

If it is not possible for the OJT site to hire the IW upon completion of the OJT, the RC will provide job placement services to assist the IW into seeking suitable, paid positions using learned skills and enhanced qualifications.

(2) Compensation. During OJT the employer does NOT pay wages, stipend or expenses to the IW nor will the DFEC provide reimbursement to an employer for trainee wages, stipend or expenses. The IW will continue to receive full DFEC disability/wage loss compensation throughout the course of the OJT.

(3) Eligible Businesses. A business owned or managed by the IW, the IW's relatives, an employee of OWCP (or his/her family), or an OWCP-certified RC (or his/her family) is not eligible for this service. Otherwise, most for-profit or non-profit businesses will qualify to provide OJT as long as all requirements are met for internships under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

(4) Suitability. The OJT program must provide training in skills that are anticipated to lead to suitable employment in the targeted job(s). The IW and RC should consider whether the OJT model is the most appropriate course of training for the IW. If the proposed OJT is not well-defined, is overly lengthy, or there is not a reasonably available job market for the skills to be learned, consideration should be given to other training or placement models.

However, an OJT may be combined with other trainings or services as part of the vocational plan as appropriate. For example, an IW may participate in a formal training program and then move into a short-term OJT to further enhance skills and employability.

(5) OJT Agreement. The RC should work with the employer to produce a written training agreement which identifies the skills and knowledge to be taught, the schedule and the duties to be performed by which such skills and knowledge will be imparted. This should be agreed to and signed by the IW, the employer and the RC. The document is forwarded to the RS for final approval. The RC must receive written approval from the RS prior to initiating the OJT.

See Exhibit 1 in this Part for a sample agreement.

(6) RC Follow-Up during OJT. The RC should follow-up regularly with the OJT business site and the IW to assist with the initiation of training and to provide support, as needed, to ensure a smooth training experience and successful outcome. The RC should regularly document contacts with the business and IW and report on skills learned, general progress and any other issues of concern or relevance during the course of training.

See Exhibit 2 in this Part for a sample OJT assessment that can be used when evaluating the effectiveness of the OJT.

As with other trainings, the RC is authorized 2 professional hours per month to maintain communications and follow-ups with the IW and the employer during the OJT. Training progress should be reported on the monthly RC progress report.

(7) Internship Programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act. All DFEC OJT agreements must meet the requirements of internship programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If requirements are not met, the OJT may be considered, under the law, to be employment, entitling the IW to minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked over 40 in a work week. Sanctions are possible for any business which does not fulfill these employment requirements.

As such, OJT must meet the following six criteria as determined by the Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division (see http://www.dol.gov/whd for further information on the FLSA):

(a) The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;

(b) The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;

(c) The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;

(d) The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;

(e) The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and

(f) The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

(8) Problems or Non-cooperation during Training. If the IW reports or demonstrates problems during training, the RC should engage in prompt counseling and intervention with the IW to identify the source of problems and facilitate solutions. If, despite this engagement, the IW is not participating fully in training and/or not cooperating with related rehabilitation services, the RC should advise the IW of his/her FECA-mandated obligation to participate in rehabilitation. If participation or prompt improvement does not result, the RC should immediately notify the RS via Form OWCP-44, Rehabilitation Action Report (or DFEC specified equivalent). The RC should follow the guidance of the RS regarding how to proceed. If the IW has any questions pertaining to potential actions that may be taken by the OWCP, the RC should refer the IW to his/her Claims Examiner (CE).

The RC, RS and CE will work toward a prompt solution. If resolution is not reached, the CE may initiate formal sanctions. Upon receipt of notification that such sanctions have been formally proposed, the RC may be asked to determine whether the IW intends to recommence good faith participation in the rehab effort and, if so, to continue or to reinstate provision of services.

Examples of non-cooperation during training may include:

(a) Failure to attend classes.

(b) Failure to apply appropriate effort to success in such classes.

(c) Failure to maintain a "C" average or otherwise satisfactory grades and performance ratings.

(d) Failure to provide regular documentation of successful participation in the training program as required.

(e) Failure to undergo training after a training program has been approved.

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EXHIBIT 1: On the Job Training (OJT) Memorandum of Agreement

Department of Labor
Office of Workers' Compensation (OWCP)
Division of Federal Employee's Compensation (DFEC)

On-the-Job Training (OJT)
Unpaid Work-Based Learning Experience
Memorandum of Agreement

DFEC Participant: _______________________________________________ File Number: ______________

OJT Company/Organization Name:

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Address:

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

This memorandum constitutes the agreement between the OJT Company/Organization noted above and the US Department of Labor, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) for the purpose of providing a work learning experience (or internship). By entering into this agreement, OWCP does not in any formal way associate itself with, or endorse the activities of the OJT Company/Organization noted above. The internship is unpaid and OWCP will not provide monetary compensation or reimbursement to the business for OJT related costs.

The Company/Organization will:

1. Provide internship (or work learning experience, training, etc.) in the following field:

_________________________________________________________________________

2. Provide internship and supervision for a total of _____________ hours per week during the

period: ________________ (Start date) to _______________ (End date).

3. Notify the DFEC Rehabilitation Counselor within 48 hours if:

a. The intern experiences difficulties in completing the program.
b. The intern discontinues the internship.

4. Communicate with DFEC Rehabilitation Counselor regarding progress of training.

DFEC Rehabilitation Counselor and/or staff will:

1. Maintain regular contact with the company/organization representative and intern during the internship.

2. Provide technical assistance and support in determining and providing accommodations or assistance as needed to enable full participation in the internship program, as appropriate.

DFEC Participant/Intern agrees to:

1. Arrive at the OJT site as scheduled each day throughout program and maintain attendance log.

2. Abide by company rules and regulations and perform tasks as directed and assigned.

3. Ask supervisor for clarification when questions arise.

4. Comply with OJT requirements established at the beginning of program.

5. Contact supervisor and DFEC Rehabilitation Counselor and/or Rehabilitation Specialist regarding any OJT-related questions, changes or problems.

OJT Training Schedule:

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

OJT Learning Objectives: Description of processes, operations and/or skills to be learned.

1. ________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. ________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. ________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. ________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. ________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

OJT Supervisor/Contact:

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Phone: ___________________________________________________________________________________________

Email: ___________________________________________________________________________________________

 

The OJT period may be reduced or extended by written mutual agreement. This agreement may be terminated at any time by either party with written notice sent to the other party.

OJT Conditions: An OJT/internship provides training for the educational benefit of the DFEC Injured Worker/Intern and is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment. The company derives no immediate advantage from the intern's activities. OJT placements do not displace current employees of the employer, and the intern works under close supervision of existing staff. The intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the OJT and the intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship. However, employment can be the outcome of an internship relationship.

The contents of this agreement (and any other information provided to the business by DFEC regarding this participant) are protected under the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. Do not disclose without prior written approval of DFEC.

 

By signing this agreement, all parties agree with the conditions set in this On-the-Job Training, Work Learning Experience Agreement.

 

________________________________________________________ Date: ___________
Intern/DFEC Injured Worker Signature

 

________________________________________________________ Date: ___________
Authorized Company Representative

 

________________________________________________________ Date: ___________
DFEC Rehabilitation Counselor, Phone number

 

________________________________________________________ Date: ___________
DFEC Rehabilitation Specialist, Phone Number

 

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EXHIBIT 2: On the Job Training (OJT) Assessment

Department of Labor
Office of Workers' Compensation (OWCP)
Division of Federal Employee's Compensation (DFEC)

On-the-Job (OJT) Training Assessment

 

DFEC Participant: _______________________________________________ File Number: ______________

OJT Company/Organization Name: __________________________________________________________________

OJT Supervisor/Contact: ___________________________________________________________________________

DFEC Rehabilitation Counselor: ______________________________________________________________________

 

1) Time and Attendance: Satisfactory or Not Satisfactory. If not satisfactory, explain:

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

2) Progress on OJT Learning Objectives (as outlined in Memorandum of Agreement)

 

Achieved

In Progress

Not Achieved

1.

 

     

2.

 

     

3.

 

     

4.

 

     

5.

 

     

 

Specific Information Concerning Any Objectives Achieved/Not Achieved:

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

3) Other Relevant Information on Work Performance and Skills (e.g. communication and interpersonal skills, ability to problem solve, etc.):

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________ Date: ___________
Intern/DFEC Injured Worker Signature

 

________________________________________________________ Date: ___________
Authorized Company Representative/OJT Supervisor

 

________________________________________________________ Date: ___________
DFEC Rehabilitation Counselor

 

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