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Silverberg Group - Bringing Your Employee Benefits into Focus

Bringing an Employee back to Work

Bringing an employee back to work after a disability can be challenging for any organization. Fortunately, there are programs which can be developed to help ease the transition. The most common is a return-to-work program (RTW).  An RTW is based on the philosophy that many employees can safely perform meaningful work as part of the recovery process. Having a RTW program in place is a proactive approach to helping disabled workers stay at work or return to safe and productive employment as soon as health permits, following a workplace injury. While many employers do not see the need for a RTW programs until an employee is suffering from a disability, RTW strategies and policies are most effective when they have been planned out well in advance.

What is the Role of the Employer in a RTW program?

Employers must first determine what absence issues the program will seek to address and who needs to be involved in the program to ensure its success. While some programs target physical disabilities and chronic illness, other programs have begun to include mental health issues as well.

An employer should offer workers meaningful and productive duties that may be modified to reflect the capabilities of the employee. The RTW program itself should be flexible and tailored to the specific needs of the returning employee. Some programs may need to make physical adjustment to a workplace environment and others scheduling adjustments to provide more breaks to an employee. Employers should communicate to other workers that a RTW program has been established and share the procedures to access the program. They should also share opportunities and tips for co-workers and supervisors to support a disabled worker through the recovery process.

The overall goal of an RTW is to optimize the recovery process, facilitate safe and timely return to work, and ensure that further injuries do not occur. By implementing a successful RTW program employers will ensure that they can retain valued and experienced employees, and reduce cost associated with training and recruiting replacement staff. These programs can improve team dynamics, boost workplace morale and reduce the cost of injury. For more information on RTW programs or to find out how you can establish your own program for your organization please contact your Silverberg Advisor today.




In closing there are financial, legal, and moral reasons to have RTW programs in place to assist workers with recovery following an injury.  RTW programs benefit workers, employers, unions and healthcare providers.

The overall goal of an RTW is to optimize the recovery process, facilitate safe and timely return to work, and ensure that further injuries do not occur.



Employer Benefits of a RTW Program


is a challenge every employer faces, regardless of the size or scope of its organization. But the transition can be eased by a return-to-work (RTW) program that addresses the needs of both employer and employee. To ensure these needs are met, organizations implementing a RTW program should first consider why the program is being implemented, what absence issues the program will seek to address and who needs to be involved in the program’s successful execution.


An organization is most often driven to consider a RTW program by higher-than-average absence costs. Each organization, therefore, should first thoroughly investigate its internal absence costs to understand where they originate.

An organization must be able to identify the following absence costs:

A formal RTW program built around these identified costs will be more effective in helping employers return absent employees to productive positions. Absence costs and the program’s ability to improve these costs should be reviewed every 24 months—at a minimum.


The next step involves analyzing what absence issues are present in an organization. For some employers, chronic illness may be identified as a key absence cost. For others, mental health issues may be at the root.

The goal of returning the employee to work will be the same in all cases. But RTW planning and execution will differ according to the nature of the disability—so understanding your organization’s unique absence challenges is key. For example, employees who are regularly absent throughout the year due to chronic illness can be successfully returned to work. But these employees will likely return on a temporary basis and may eventually be directed to a more permanent short-or long-term disability program if their illness progresses.


It is also important to identify who in your organization must be involved in a RTW program, since a successful initiative involves a number of departments and individuals working together. Some or all of the following parties may be involved:

When the duration of an absence is reduced, all costs associated with that absence also decrease—including the number of paid sick days used and the need to hire replacement workers. By defining the why, what and who behind your organization’s RTW needs, you will be able to create a program that can reduce absenteeism and improve your bottom line.

Benefits to the Employer

Benefits to the Employee

Win-Win for Everyone

Interested in learning about how the Silverberg Group can help with your return to work policy? Email us.

Silverberg Group specializes in employee benefits consulting for companies of all sizes, and is Alberta owned & operated. From employee benefits programs to executive packages, we translate industry information into innovative options and solutions that best suit your organizational goals. Since 1996, over 800 clients have put their confidence in our industry expertise and our exceptional service. Let us become part of your company’s human resources team.

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