What Are Return to Work Programs?

According to a report published by the Bureau of Labor,  there were more than three million recorded cases of nonfatal workplace injuries in 2013. Occupational injuries are amongst the leading cause of poverty in the United States. When a worker is unable to work due to an illness or injury contracted on the job this affects their ability to adequately provide for their families.  Workplace injuries can also impact the company and disrupt the workflow.


While it’s important for every business to have some form of workers’ compensation insurance, and to incorporate risk management strategies to help avoid injury, an organization can benefit from integrating a return to work program (RTW).


What is A Return to Work Program?


A work to return program is a business strategy implemented by organizations to take a proactive approach to retaining quality workers and enhancing the productivity of the business. While the specifics of each return to work program may vary, they are all designed to help an injured or temporarily disabled worker progressively return to the workforce. Many RTW programs limited job duties, modified schedules and temporary reassignments.


Benefits of A RTW


Return to work programs aren’t only for large corporations. It’s essential that small businesses and organizations incorporate a return to work program into their business strategy. An efficient RTW program can:


1)   Help reduce disability claim and the associated costs.

2)   Ensure that the company is able to adequately meet demands by maintaining productivity.

3)   Prevents the loss of valuable employees, which can in turn decrease the costs of recruiting and training new employees.


Return to work programs are also of great benefit to injured workers.  It allows a disabled worker to remain employed and keep their earning power.


Tips for Implementing A RTW


So, how can you begin implementing a return to work program in your small business? While larger corporations may have access to more resources, smaller organizations can customize return to work features to meet the needs of the business. Below are some tips for introducing a return to work program for a small business:


  • Create a policy to follow after an injury occurs.
  • Establish a communication system amongst healthcare providers and management personnel.
  • Create a schedule to monitor the progress of the injured worker.
  • Allow the injured employee to assist in identifying suitable work opportunities.
  • Be flexible and positive.
  • Continually analyze your RTW program and look for areas for improvement.