What is the Return to Work Program?
The Return to Work (RTW) Program assists employees in returning to work after injury or illness. Although medically-restricted employees may be unable to perform their regular jobs, they can often do modified or alternate work while recovering. The program supports the Laboratory's efforts to provide temporary alternative work consistent with medical restrictions. Each directorate has an RTW Liaison to help coordinate efforts to facilitate employees' return to work.
What is the Disability Management Team?
The Disability Management Team (DMT) comprises representatives from Health Services, Human Resources, Injury and Illness Reporting, and Staff Relations. These representatives provide expertise and advice creating a smooth transition from disability to return to work for all employees. The DMT is responsible for overseeing RTW Program operations. DMT members also support employees experiencing medical disability and related issues, and provide support to RTW Liaisons and directorates in their efforts to provide accommodations to medically-restricted employees.
Who are Return to Work Liaisons?
RTW Liaisons are employees in each directorate who assist employees in navigating the return to work process. Click here for a roster of RTW Liaisons for each directorate.
Is the Return to Work Program only for work-related conditions?
No, the RTW Program is designed to help employees with both work-related and non-work-related medical conditions return to work quickly and safely.
What do you need to do when returning to work?
- It is important to return to work through Health Services if you have been off work for five or more days, had surgery or been hospitalized. HSD encourages you to make an appointment prior to your first day back. In the absence of an appointment, you may drop into HSD for an RTW evaluation.
- If you have been absent for an extended period or have significant functional limitations, it is important to initiate communication with your RTW Liaison and Health Services in advance of your anticipated return to work so that the process can be managed efficiently.
- You may be asked to provide written documentation regarding work status if you have sought care from an off-site treating clinician. The Health Services clinician will assess whether or not you require any medical restrictions and discuss them with you. Your supervisor(s) and your directorate RTW Liaison will be notified of any restrictions and will help ensure that you receive temporary accommodation that is compatible with your medical restrictions.
- Similarly, while off work, it's important to keep your supervisor informed of your status. An unnecessary communication gap can occur unless you make an effort to let your supervisor know of your progress and likely return to work date.
- Discuss medical restrictions with your supervisor to determine how best to accommodate them. Accommodation of medical restrictions may take the form of modifying your current job or possible temporary assignment to a different position. Talk and work with your supervisor to determine the best accommodation. The RTW Liaison is another resource in your directorate.
What are your responsibilities during temporary accommodation?
- Perform your work safely, observing all restrictions.
- Notify your supervisor if:
- You experience difficulty performing your assignments.
- You will miss time due to scheduled physical therapy and/or medical exams.
- You are unable to report for your assignment.
What if my clinician or I have questions about when and under what circumstances I should return to work?
Contact the RTW Program Coordinator, at 1-925-423-0591. LLNS will work with you and your clinician to coordinate a smooth return to work effort.
How will participating in the Return to Work Program affect my disability payments?
In most instances, when you have returned to work, you will resume earning your regular salary and your disability payments will end. Participating in the RTW Program usually results in increased overall cash flow to employees, since it facilitates early return to work.
If I return to work, but am unable to continue working and have to go back on disability, will I have to go through another waiting period?
You may in some circumstances. For this reason, each return to work situation will be evaluated individually.
Where will I be assigned to temporary, modified work?
Your supervisor and RTW Liaison will first seek to modify your usual job tasks so that you can continue to do all or most of your regular job assignments. If your job cannot be modified sufficiently to be compatible with the restrictions, you may be assigned to a different job within or outside your directorate.
Will the job I am placed in under the Return to Work Program become my new job?
It depends. For temporary restrictions, the RTW Program is intended to provide modified duties until you can resume normal duties.
Most employees with permanent restrictions return to their usual assignment; but some, because of the severity of restrictions, may not be able to return to their former job. In that case, efforts will be made to find a suitable alternate position; one in which restrictions can be accommodated. Permanent accommodation of medical restrictions will require a formal accommodation review involving the DMT, your payroll supervisor, your RTW Liaison and an upper management representative from your payroll organization.
Whom can I contact to learn more about the Return to Work Program?
Your directorate RTW Liaison can provide information about the program. Your payroll supervisor should know who your RTW Liaison is, or you may download the list of RTW Liaisons.
You can also contact the RTW Coordinator in Health Services at 1-925-423-0591, or Staff Relations at 1-925-422-9501.
Whom can I contact if I disagree with an accommodation decision?
If you do not agree with the Laboratory’s final decision about an accommodation, you can contact the Office of Strategic Diversity Programs at 1-925-424-4954.