DND Civilian Employee Return to Work Program

The DND Civilian Employee Return to Work (RTW) Program helps convalescing employees ease back into the workplace by temporarily modifying their duties until they are capable of resuming full duties. Supported by the Deputy Minister, the Chief of the Defence Staff and the top Union Executives, the RTW Program has seen great success since its implementation in October 2000.

What are the Benefits of the Return to Work Program?

Experience has shown that the sooner rehabilitation begins, the easier it is to reintegrate back into the workplace. Getting back to work means getting back to an active lifestyle, a normal routine, and continuity of income. The DND RTW Program has been developed to assist your return to work in a medically supervised manner as soon as practicable. The goal of the Program is for the employee and the employer to work together to achieve success in a safe, lasting and productive return to work.

Employee Roles & Responsibilities

The employee plays a very important role in the RTW process and stands to benefit the most. Employees may be represented by their union or bargaining agent in cases where there may be interrelationship issues or concerns. Employees are responsible for:

  • Informing their supervisor of their functional limitations and work-related needs;
  • Advising their supervisor of their expected return to work date;
  • Working co-operatively and in partnership with their supervisor to find the most appropriate means to facilitate their RTW; and,
  • Advising their Disability Insurance provider (if on Disability Insurance) when their doctor indicates that they can return to work.

If you are absent from work due to an illness or injury, remember to stay in contact with your supervisor.

Content from RTW Pamphlet

This content is also available in PDF format at the top of this page under the heading "Alternate Formats."

Frequently Asked Questions

What are modified duties?

Modified duties can be changes in job tasks, work schedules, or both. Modifications are typically made to work areas, equipment, production quotas, schedules and organization of tasks.

How does the supervisor determine the appropriate modified duties for a convalescing employee?

Modified duties should be productive for the unit and meaningful for the employee. Most importantly, the modified duties must be safe for the employee and co-workers. Obtaining the employee’s current abilities via the DND Occupational Fitness Assessment Form (OFAF) on the RTW Program Intranet site, will help to determine what duties are safe for the employee. Your local RTW Program Advisor, Human Resources Officer and the employee’s Union Representative are resources that can be of assistance in this process.

How does this program benefit injured/ill employees?

Getting back to work after an illness or injury is an important stage of rehabilitation. In our culture, work is a big part of life and a major source of self-esteem. A safe and timely return to temporary modified work helps prevent the loss of friends, professional contacts and occupational skills that are essential to employees’ well-being.

How does this program benefit the work unit?

When an employee is away from work due to injury or illness the workload needs to be redistributed among co-workers or the work is not done. This extra work places extra pressure on the work unit. Having the injured/ill employee resume part of his/her work when appropriate will help alleviate some of the extra demands.

Is the RTW Program only for work-related injuries?

No. An employee can take part in the RTW Program whether they have a work-related OR non-work-related injury or illness. The program is also well-suited to both mental and physical illnesses.

Tips for a Successful Return to Work


Maintain open communication between all stakeholders. The DND OFAF can help to facilitate this communication. Information about the OFAF can be found on the RTW Program site.


Supervisors and employees need to work together to find a modified work arrangement that is beneficial to all involved.


Trust is the result of good communication and effective collaboration. Supervisors must show that they care, and employees must be actively involved in their rehabilitation. These return to work efforts help to solidify the trust between supervisors, employees and co-workers.

By committing to open communication, full collaboration and building trust, supervisors and employees can work together to ensure a safe and timely return to work.

Alert: Want More Information?

For more information on the RTW Program, contact your supervisor or local RTW Advisor. DND employees can also access the RTW Program Intranet site from internal computers.

Contact Information for Corporate Civilian RTW Program Questions

TTY/TDD*: 1-800-467-9877

* A TTY is a special device that lets people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired use the telephone to communicate, by allowing them to type messages back and forth to one another instead of talking and listening. A TTY is required at both ends of the conversation in order to communicate.

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