Return to Work (RTW) and Stay at Work (SAW) programs are part of a business' strategy to retain valued employees and to enhance the productivity of its workforce. The ultimate purpose of a return-to-work program, also known as a transitional duty program, is to make changes and provide accommodations so employees with injuries or medical conditions can return to work.
As with workplace accommodation programs, a RTW program should have clear written policies articulating each party's responsibilities. Accurate job descriptions including the physical demands of particular essential functions should also be developed. This helps everyone in the process (e.g., doctors, rehabilitation staff, and accommodation specialists) understand the job requirements. A good understanding of the job demands and the employee's limitations and abilities is the starting point for determining if effective job accommodations will enable the employee to return to or stay at work while still recovering from injury. Effective job accommodations insure that the employee returns to work as soon as possible without risk to the employee or employer.