Return to Work

Section: IV. ADSV-365
Approved By: Dr. Pamela J. Transue, 08/02/11
Last Review: 07/01/11
Last Revision: 07/01/11
Prior Revisions: 12/05/97, 08/30/04
Initial Adoption: Unknown


Eligible employees who are temporarily disabled and unable to perform their regular job duties because of a workplace accident, illness, or  injury will be given the opportunity to return to lighter or modified work during the period of convalescence based on an evaluation by a licensed health care provider and to the extent a light duty position is available.   Because recovery time may vary from case to case, the College will evaluate each individual employee’s situation to allow sufficient time for recovery and rehabilitation based upon the certification provided by a licensed health care provider.  The College reserves it’s right to appoint a licensed health care provider to assist at any time during the Return-to-Work process.

The College may discontinue a modified work program for an individual employee if it becomes evident from a licensed health care provider evaluation that capacity to return fully to the regular assigned position is unlikely. 

If the need for permanent modifications becomes apparent, the College’s Reasonable Accommodation procedure will be followed.


A. Employee Responsibilities – Employees are responsible to:

  1. Follow job safety guidelines and practices.
  2. Timely report any work related accident, illness or injury.
  3. Request a light duty assignment and submit documentation from a licensed health care provider that describes the nature of the temporary disability  .  The provider’s statement must include:  the diagnosis, prognosis, anticipated duration of the disability, and description of any restriction(s) or limitations.
  4. Provide updated medical information during the period of disability upon request. The College may request medical information during any period of the work related disability.
  5. Participate and cooperate with the College’s efforts to meet the requirements of the RTW program, including submitting to an examination and evaluation by a licensed health care provider.

B. Supervisor Responsibilities – Supervisors are responsible to:

  1. Promote safe work practices within the area of his or her responsibility.
  2. Explain the campus RTW program with all eligible employees.
  3. Ensure that an illness, injury or accident report is properly completed and submitted in a timely manner following a work related illness, accident, or injury
  4. Review with the employee the process of modified and/or light duty under the College’s RTW program.
  5. Notify the College’s RTW Program Coordinator of any employee work related illness, injury or accident that may result in time away from the job.
  6. Cooperate with the RTW Coordinator to indentify any work modification or light duty assignments in the regularly assigned work unit that the employee may perform maintain on going assessment of the employee’s work and weekly communication with the employee and the RTW Coordinator regarding the employee’s condition and capabilities.

C. RTW Program Coordinator Responsibilities – The RTW Program Coordinator is responsible to:

  1. Coordinate eligibility of a temporarily disabled employee for the RTW program based on information obtained from a licensed health care provider.  This may include a job analysis, as well as evaluation of the employee’s capabilities and limitations, as well as identifying any transferable skills that may apply to temporary reassignments.  Also, if a modified duty placement is not appropriate in the regularly assigned work area, the RTW Program Coordinator will explore alternate placement in other work units at the College in collaboration with the supervisor(s).
  2. Determine an eligible employee’s, availability regarding employment locations and types of employment based on information secured from a licensed health care provider and the College’s availability of assignments.
  3. Facilitate identification of potential return-to-work opportunities; and submit necessary forms to appropriate personnel including the Department of Labor and Industries.
  4. Seek appropriate temporary modified work assignments, with preference of assignment in the following order:
  1. Modification of the eligible employee’s current position regularly assigned, if possible;
  2. Transfer temporarily to another position in the same work unit as regularly assigned (permanent, or part-time/temporary position);
  3. Temporary transfer to another position in another work unit outside of the regularly assigned work unit;
  4. Temporary transfer to a position with another state agency or institution of higher education if the College is unable to provide a position.

5.     Maintain contact with the supervisor who is overseeing the modified work assignment for the temporarily disabled employee for the status of the employee’s progress.

Final decision of appropriate modified work assignments rests with the College’s RTW Program Coordinator

The RTW Program Coordinator will coordinate participation of applicable employee assistance programs, as appropriate.

Training and Education

The Human Resource department will make available this program description and orient all supervisors to the RTW program.  Each eligible employee will be provided information about this program upon orientation by their supervisor.  The College and Administrative Manual will include this policy. Detailed information regarding this program will be provided to any individual employee who is identified as potentially eligible for the RTW program.  The description of the College RTW program will be given to any other employee or regulating agency official upon request.


The purpose of the Return to Work (RTW) program is to provide, when possible, an assignment for an eligible employee who is temporarily unable to return to  their regular assignment until the time that the employee is released for full-work duty by a licensed health care provider.

To Whom Does This Policy Apply

This policy applies to tenured and probationary academic employees, classified service employees, and regular exempt employees who are receiving State of Washington worker’s compensation for an on-the-job accident, injury or illness.


RCW 41.06.490 - State Employee Return-to-Work Program

RCW 51.32.090  Temporary total disability – Partial restoration of earning power – Return to available work – When employer continues wages – Limitations Applicable collective bargaining agreements


Eligible Employee -   Tenured and probationary academic employees, classified service employees, and regular exempt employees who are receiving State of Washington workers’ compensation for an on-the-job accident, injury or illness. An eligible employee can be a RTW participant if he/she has a temporary diagnosed disability due to an occupational accident, illness or injury which makes that employee temporarily unable to carry out his/her regularly assigned job duties, yet the employee is capable of performing work of a lighter or modified nature, based on a written evaluation by a licensed health care provider.

Modified Work or Light Duty -  This is a process of returning  an eligible employee to work with adjustments made in the type or scheduling of job tasks within the work environment.  Work assignments may be made to the regular work unit or to another work unit of the College.  Work assignments are modified or structured to be within the capacities and abilities of the employee, accommodating any restrictions or limitations certified by a licensed health care provider. Modified work or light duty is transitional in nature and for limited periods of time. 

Duration of RTW Modifications -  The eligible employee may participate in the RTW program for as long as the temporary total disability continues.

Return-To-Work Coordinator -  Human Resources personnel are responsible for coordination of the College’s RTW program.

See College Policy -  Definitions