Learn More about the SAW/RTW Online Dialogues

Why are these dialogues taking place?

Every year, millions of workers in the United States sustain an injury or experience the onset or worsening of a serious medical problem or disability that causes them to leave their job. In many cases, the next step is for the worker to seek medical care, ongoing therapy, rehabilitation, or similar services, followed by a rest or recovery period. Typically, this requires dealing with multiple people and systems (e.g., health care, insurance, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), workers’ compensation), a process which can become very complicated and time-consuming. When the worker is ready to return to work, things may continue to be difficult: For example, the worker may be unable to function in the job in the same way as before the accident or illness, or may not yet have the stamina to return to work full-time.

The worker’s return-to-work may be facilitated by a variety of employment supports, such as workplace accommodations that would enable him or her to continue in the job essentially as before. State Return-to-Work (RTW) policies and strategies can also play an important role in ensuring that there is support for the worker’s transition back to work. State efforts may include such strategies as providing employers with financial incentives such as wage subsidies or reimbursements for workplace accommodations, offering state-level employment transition programs, or supporting employer programs that allow for partial return-to-work and aid the worker in transitioning back to employment.

These national online dialogues explore what it would take for states to institute policy changes or develop initiatives or programs to support workers and employers in the transition back to work. These dialogues are coordinated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work (SAW/RTW) Policy Collaborative, which is engaged in developing actionable policy steps toward the promotion of timely and effective SAW/RTW services and supports for workers to remain in/return to the labor force. As part of this important initiative, the SAW/RTW Policy Collaborative is convening a Policy Working Group focused on the Transition Back to Work. This Group will help develop resources and materials of use to key stakeholders as they seek to implement structural and policy changes necessary for making meaningful progress towards increasing workforce attachment and improving outcomes for injured workers. These online dialogues will help the SAW/RTW Policy Collaborative identify policy changes aimed at bringing about significant improvements and results from SAW/RTW strategies being implemented in different state policy contexts.

Why participate?

In these dialogue, we hope to gather multiple perspectives on options for SAW/RTW supports and to refine practicable policy recommendations based on that input. Your participation is needed to help identify the scope of work of the Transition-Back-to-Work Policy Working Group, which will gather resources and develop policy action materials (such as draft MOUs, sample policy language, etc.). We look forward to working with you and hope you will join us in this important effort!

Who should participate?

These online events are open to anyone interested in joining the conversation. We strongly encourage insurers, providers, state agencies, employers, researchers, program administrators, advocates, and policymakers to participate.