Stakeholders in Disability Management Programs and Their Roles

Many individuals are involved in the administration of joint disability management programs. While the players will change depending on the corporate structure, the demands of the workplace, and the specific details of individual return to work plans, the stakeholders include:

  • Injured/ill workers
  • Joint committees
  • Return to work coordinators
  • Healthcare providers
  • Insurance providers
  • Supervisors, worker representatives, senior management and union officials

The roles and responsibilities of the key stakeholders include

Injured/ill workers are encouraged to actively participate in the return to work process to ensure that it is safe, suitable and sustainable by reporting illness or injury as soon as possible, contributing to the development of a return-to-work plan, complying with recommendations of treatment providers, taking personal responsibility for maintaining health and mental well-being and advising supervisor and RTWC of any change in circumstances during the return to work process.

Joint committees oversee the administration of a disability management program on a company-wide or worksite-wide basis. Members provide overall policy direction and advise on dispute resolution.

Return to work coordinators (RTWCs) are the main contact persons for all stakeholders, an active supported of the injured or ill worker and their families, and the catalyst for facilitating the return to work of that worker. (for a detailed description of the role and responsibilities of the RTWC, click here)

Health care providers assist an employee’s return to work by reviewing functional job descriptions with the employee to explore return to work possibilities, completing thorough functional assessments, suggesting modifications to tasks to place less strain on existing injuries or conditions, and communicating effectively with workers and the RTWC.

Insurance providers play an essential role in the disability management process by supplying for benefits, arranging for rehabilitation services efficiently, communicating openly with the employee and RTWC to explore return to work strategies, and participating in the process of identifying or creating permanent job accommodation options.

Supervisors monitor safe work practices of employees returning to work, identify transitional work options or job accommodations that might assist return to work, work closely with RTWC to analyze the overall demands of each job, discuss concerns and issues around job performance, safety with employee and RTWC and answer coworkers questions and concerns about disabled workers, job modifications, etc.

Senior management provides visible support and commitment to disability management objectives, ensures accountability, ensures necessary program resources are available and empowers joint committees to carry out program objectives.

Union officials provide visible support and commitment to the program, support marketing and promotion efforts, empower the joint committee, and promote return to work language within the collective agreement.

Worker representatives act as an advocate for the rights of all employees including those with disabilities, identify transitional job options, support the worker and the RTWC, and communicate objectives and potential benefits of disability management programs to coworkers.