Workplace injuries and illnesses are costly to both workers and employers. The best way to reduce these costs is with an effective safety and health program. When injuries happen, a practical and effective Return to Work (RTW) program will help you reduce both the human and financial costs of workplace injuries.
A return to work program provides modified tasks, schedules and working conditions as needed to help injured workers come back to work while they are recovering and as part of their recovery.
Why return to work?
A return to work program helps you:
- Keep experienced workers connected to the workplace
- Reduce the costs of training and recruiting replacement staff
- Maintain productivity and team dynamics
- Improve workplace morale
- Reduce the costs of injuries
- Meet legal requirements related to Human Rights and WCB re-employment legislation.
A return to work program helps injured workers:
- Recover more rapidly from their injuries
- Maintain their job stability
- Get back on track sooner and with less uncertainty about the future.
What is return to work?
A well-developed return to work program is a proactive approach to helping injured workers stay at work or return to safe and productive employment as soon as health permits following a workplace injury. The goal is to optimize recovery, facilitate safe and timely return to work, and to prevent further injuries. The best approach is to have your return to work program and policies in place before a workplace injury occurs – but it’s never too late to start.
A return to work program will provide the processes and information to develop an individual return to work plan for an injured worker. The return to work plan is developed cooperatively with the employer, injured worker, their healthcare provider, a union or workplace safety and health committee representative (if applicable), and – when required – the WCB. We are here to support the return to work process as needed.
Each workplace and worker is unique. As a result, your return to work program must be flexible and able to be customized to meet the specific needs of individual injured workers and your workplace.
What is the role of the employer in a return to work program?
As the employer, you are responsible to:
- Offer workers meaningful and productive modified or alternate duties that are safe and within their capabilities
- Be flexible and tailor a return to work plan to meet the individual needs of the workers and their recovery
- Keep in touch with injured workers and the WCB throughout the return to work process; in particular, communicate with injured workers throughout the recovery process to show that they are valued and help them retain a connection to the workplace
- Ensure that supervisors and co-workers support injured workers during recovery and participate in the return to work process
- Communicate your return to work program to staff, including the processes they should follow if they have to use the program.
What is the role of the WCB?
The WCB is here to help you develop your return to work program and ensure a successful return to work for your injured workers. We will:
- Monitor the return to work process and assist with wage loss payments
- Provide assistance if the worker or employer requires financial or technical support to fulfill the return to work plan
- Facilitate and attend return to work meetings as required
- Become involved where concerns are raised about the RTW process, or when there is a dispute about a worker's capabilities or the work they are being asked to perform
- Determine if the employer has met re-employment obligations
We’re here to help
The WCB has many resources available to employers to help you put a return to work program in place and develop individual return to work plans for injured workers.
See how you’re doing
Take our 5-minute employer self-assessment to see how your Return to Work program measures up. The results will give you tips on next steps to improve your Return to Work program and processes.
Return to Work Program Services
The WCB's Return to Work Program Services Team is available to assist you in enhancing or developing a return to work program with training, consulting and advice. Contact us at RTWProgramServices@wcb.mb.ca.
Return to Work Workshop
The WCB offers a free one-day workshop for employers wanting to enhance or develop a return to work program. For more information and to register visit our training page.
Information about return to work
- RTW is good for Better Business Brochure
- RTW is good for Better Recovery Brochure
- RTW is good for Better Health Brochure
- Safe Work is Good for Business Brochure
- Re-employment Obligations Brochure