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The Return-to-Work Plan (RTW)

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). A RTW is based on the belief that many employees can safely perform meaningful work as part of the recovery process. Most often these programs are developed by an insurance disability case worker, who works with an employer to help individuals return to work by catering to their specific needs. By implementing a RTW plan an employer can help disabled workers stay at work or return to safe and productive employment as soon as health permits.

What is the role of the employer in a RTW program?

Employers need to work with disability case workers to determine which situations would benefit from a RTW program. While many programs in the past have strictly targeted physical disabilities, more recent programs have begun to include chronic illness and mental health issues as well. A RTW is built around

providing meaningful and productive duties in the workplace that may be modified to reflect the capabilities of the employee. It should be flexible and adaptive – for example, some programs may need to make physical adjustment to a workplace environment, while others may need to provide scheduling adjustments to allow for more breaks.

Employers should communicate to other workers that a RTW program has been established and share opportunities and tips for co-workers and supervisors to support a disabled worker through the return to work process.

How can a RTW plan help your business?

A successful RTW program helps employers 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. While your company may not need a RTW program right now, it is worthwhile to think about accommodations that could be made to support a team member, should a situation present itself.

For more information on RTW plans, please contact your Silverberg Advisor.

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