Return to duty guide for Canadian Armed Forces members
Principles of CAF RTD
RTD is fundamentally a multidisciplinary approach that depends on the collaborative efforts of: the ill or injured CAF member, their chain of command (COC); their Health Care Provider (HCP) team; Personnel Support Programs (PSP) Specialists; and, the support and services provided by the local Transition Centre (TC).
Leaders at all levels have a responsibility to ensure that their members understand that early RTD intervention is their best chance for recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. Ill or injured members must have trust and confidence that their leadership will support them in all aspects of their RTD. This fosters loyalty and unit cohesion and maintains a shared identity for the ill or injured member within their team.
CAF RTD Stakeholders
The following list represents key stakeholders in the RTD Process:
- The CAF Member
- The Primary Health Care Provider (PHCP)
- The Parent Unit Chain of Command
- The TC RTD Coordinator
- The Unit RTD Representative
- The Employing Unit Supervisor/Chain of Command
- The Psychiatrist/Psychologist/Social Work Professional
- The Physiotherapy/Occupational Therapy Professional
- The PSP Regional Adapted Fitness (RAF) Specialist
- The PSP Physical Exercise (PE) Specialist
- The Nurse Case Manager
- The Member’s Spouse/Partner and Family
- The TC Services Manager
- The TC Platoon Commander (when the member is posted to CAF TG)
Eligibility for CAF RTD
All serving members of the CAF who are ill or injured are eligible for the CAF RTD program.
Participation in the CAF RTD Program
CAF members who are expected to have a prolonged course of recovery and rehabilitation beyond 30 days coupled with a requirement for reintegration into their place of duty, should be placed on RTD. CAF members who are recommended for RTD for a period beyond 30 days and within 6 months can, and should remain with their parent unit. CAF members who are recommended for RTD that is expected to last beyond 6 months may be posted to the Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group(CAF TG). A detailed description of RTD Program Coordination is provided at Annex A to this Guide.
CAF RTD Program and CO’s Authority
Participation in the CAF RTD Program is subject to the approval of the member’s CO. If the member’s CO does not support their participation in the CAF RTD Program, the CO is still obliged to respect the member’s MELs as assigned by the PHCP.
CAF RTD Program Funding
The CAF RTD Program is not a funded program, and as such, the ill or injured member’s unit continues to be responsible for that member’s administrative or support costs associated with their placement on RTD.
CAF RTD and CAF Regulations, Policies and Procedures
CAF ill and injured on RTD are subject to the same administrative and disciplinary regulations, policies and procedures as all members of the CAF.
The RTD Plan
An RTD plan is a written arrangement between a CAF member and their CO that incorporates the RTD medical recommendation into a patient-based, goals-oriented framework that supports the recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration of the CAF member. An RTD plan serves as the road map for the CAF member to follow to RTD and lays out the duties that the CAF member can perform within the parameters of their RTD medical recommendation that are specific to their rank, occupation and skills.
Each injured or ill CAF member on RTD status must have an RTD plan prepared in accordance with this guide (Return to Duty Guide for Canadian Armed Forces Members), with collaborative input from all the stakeholders invested in returning the CAF member to duty. Each RTD plan must have realistic and achievable goals that are integrated with, and cumulatively built on, the recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration capacity of the CAF member. To measure success, each RTD plan must also have benchmarks established that can be assessed in terms of time and the ability of the CAF member to progressively assume more activities and, eventually, general and operational duties.
The RTD Process
RTD plans will vary in accordance with the member’s MELs, the goals established and support and resources available to the member. However, the RTD Process cannot vary and must be followed to ensure RTD plans can be implemented efficiently and effectively. The RTD Process follows a series of steps that are essential:
- Recommendation. The member’s PHCP assigns MELs and recommends member be placed on RTD
- Referral. The member will be referred to the local TC RTD Coordinator or directly to their Unit RTD Representative to receive an information briefing on the RTD Program and familiarization with the support services available to them
- Intake. The TC RTD Coordinator or Unit RTD Representative explains the RTD Process and the purpose of the RTD Plan to the member, including the member’s roles and responsibilities, as well as the services provided by the TC
- Consult. The TC RTD Coordinator, the member and the member’s Unit RTD Representative discuss the member’s RTD recommendation with a view to creating an RTD Plan that respects MELs but focuses on building capacity to eventually remove those limitations
- Plan. The plan is developed collaboratively with the member, the professional clinical team, the chain of command, and the TC RTD Coordinator and/or the Unit RTD Representative. The plan incorporates the recommendations, goals and objectives of the identified stakeholders. The RTD Plan is submitted to the member’s chain of command for approval
- Placement. Most members are normally placed within a few weeks of receiving a RTD recommendation. The above steps take time and must be done with the principles of RTD in mind. Placements can be in unit, out of unit, or within a civilian work environment
- Monitor. The TC RTD Coordinator or the Unit RTD Representative on behalf of the Chain of Command will conduct regular follow-up with the member and his/her duty placement employer or supervisor to assess the member’s progress
- Adjust. The RTD plan will be reviewed and adjusted accordingly, especially with any changes in the member’s MELs or the RTD recommendation from the PHCP
- Monitor. Follow-up continues and progress is evaluated for potential to be returned fit full duties. The TC RTD coordinator or the Unit RTD Representative also assists the member in preparing for the member’s actual reintegration into the unit
- Return or Transition. Member is to be considered on RTD until such time as they are declared fit full duties or a decision is made to transition from the CAF in which case they should be referred to the TC RTD Coordinator to begin transition planning
A detailed example of the RTD Process is provided at Annex B.
RTD Plan Administration
Once an RTD Plan is approved, the member, member’s CO (or delegated authority), duty placement employer or supervisor, and the TC RTD Coordinator or Unit RTD Representative sign a Statement of Understanding (SOU) that establishes the parameters of the member’s RTD and the commitment of all the signatories to that plan. The standard SOU template is found at Annex D to this Guide (the local TC version may differ slightly depending on local preferences or practices with specific units). The member also signs the standard RTD Compliance and Consent Form acknowledging their compliance with the conditions of their RTD Plan and offering their consent to disclose information regarding their MELs. The standard RTD Compliance and Consent Form is found at Annex D to this Guide).
The RTD Plan should be inserted in a Personnel Development Review (PDR) as per CFPAS. Sections 1 and 2 will be used for the actual Plan and Sections 3-5 can be used for progress and meeting the objectives set-out in the plan.
The Transition Centre (TC)
Coordination and oversight of the CAF RTD Program is done locally on Bases/Wings through the affiliated TC by the TC RTD Coordinator.
The TC RTD Coordinator
Each TC has a Services Section which coordinates the provision of support services to ill and injured members. One of the core services of the TC Services Section is RTD coordination. This service is provided for members recommended for RTD who are posted to the CAF TG as well as those members recommended for RTD who remain with their Parent Unit.
The TC RTD Coordinator is responsible to the national TC Services Manager for assuring the coordination, planning and development of the individualized RTD plans for the ill and injured CAF members are consistent with DAOD 5018 CAF Return To Duty Program (TBI) and this Guide.
The TC RTD Coordinator is responsible to the TC Services Manager for the delivery of RTD Unit Representative training, and the collection and collation of RTD client data from Unit RTD Representatives in support of performance measurement requirements.
Duty, Obligations, Responsibilities
IAW CBI 208.80, a member’s "place of duty" means "the place at which an officer or non-commissioned member usually performs their normal military duties and includes any place in the surrounding geographical area that is determined to be part thereof by the Chief of the Defence Staff or such other officer as the Chief of the Defence Staff may designate".
RTD is a CO approved modification to the member’s place of duty that permits them to engage in the recovery and rehabilitation services they require and reintegration support necessary to return to full duty.
RTD does not imply unique entitlement or benefits for members. While on RTD, members are still in the CAF and as such, have the same obligations and responsibilities as all CAF members.
Sick Leave while on RTD
While on RTD, members are not on Sick Leave unless they are in possession of a Sick Leave pass.
While on RTD, members are entitled to actual and reasonable expenses associated with transportation from the place of duty established in their RTD plan (duty placement location, fitness facility) to a medical appointment, treatment or therapy session.The member’s Chain of Command is responsible for local travel and CFHS covers the cost for travel outside of the geographical area.
Refusal to Abide by RTD Plan
If a member fails to comply with any term of their RTD plan, their CO will review the RTD plan. The CO may require that the member submit to a medical assessment to determine if their RTD plan remains realistic and achievable, or if the RTD plan should be amended. Refusal to abide by the terms of an agreed upon RTD Plan following a trial period could be deemed to be a refusal to perform duty. If a member continues to fail to comply with terms of their RTD plan, the CO may initiate administrative and/or disciplinary action.
Removal from the RTD program
A member may be removed from the RTD Plan when:
- the Base/Wing Surgeon/Medical Officer determines that they are fit to return to full duties
- the member refuses to participate in the RTD plan
- the member receives notification that they will be released
- the member has been assigned permanent medical employment limitations that will most likely lead to a release from the CAF for medical reasons
- the member begins an approved Vocational Rehabilitation program for Serving Member (VRPSM)
Expenditure and Management of Annual Leave
The days that a member is not at their duty placement agreed to in their RTD Plan are considered part of their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration and therefore are accounted for in the expenditure and management of annual leave. Although the member is not performing military tasks/duties, they are following an RTD medical recommendation being implemented within an RTD plan approved by their CO. As such, those days and times of day outside of unit-scheduled duty periods still constitute military service.
Civilian placement for CAF members recommended to be placed on RTD should not be with the intent to position the member for transition to a new career or employment outside the CAF. Any placement that involves vocational rehabilitation should be part of a member’s transition plan.
Benefits, Responsibilities, and Liability on Civilian Placement
The benefits of civilian placement should be carefully weighed against the potential risks and consequences to the member and the CAF. A member employed outside of the CAF would be subject to federal and provincial labour laws as well as other pertinent laws and regulations. As per QR&O 208.45, no participating member is authorized to receive compensation, financial or otherwise, for the duties he/she carries out outside the CAF in the context of his/her CAF RTD plan.
Injury on Civilian Placement
Members on RTD in a civilian placement are still considered on duty when they are at their civilian workplace.
Travel Expenses in a Location Other than the Normal Workplace
When an RTD placement is located other than the member’s normal workplace, it shall be within the geographical boundaries of the member’s normal workplace. RTD is not designated as or considered to be a temporary duty. As such, reimbursement of the transportation costs as per CAFTDI 5.13 (Temporary Workplace Change) is not authorized.
Tools, Equipment, Protective Clothing for Civilian or Private Sector Placements
It is understood that when a member is placed on a RTD outside of the military environment there are possible costs associated with the provision of protective clothing, tools and equipment to enable the member to carry out the duty placement. The CAF is not responsible to provide these items to members who are employed in other units and/or agencies outside of the military environment. The employing unit or civilian organization is responsible to provide any such items required by that unit or organization for the member to perform duties.
Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service (COATS)
COATS members who become ill or are injured while on duty, may be eligible for enrollment in the RTD program provided funding is available. Funding is at the discretion of the COATS member’s unit (or possibly higher level of command within VCDS).
In general terms, the RTD program for CR members for service-related illness/injuries is no different than it is for Regular Force or other Reserve Force members in larger, less remote communities. However, due to the geographic and cultural uniqueness of the CR community, administrative and logistical challenges can be presented that require creative solutions.
Reserve Force Compensation (RFC) and RTD
A member of the Reserve Force on Class A, B or C service who has applied for RFC may be enrolled in the RTD Program pending the disposition of their application. If the member’s application for RFC is approved, the member may continue with their RTD Plan as recommended by their PHCP and approved by their CO in accordance with CBI 210.72. Class A pay authorized by the unit for the purpose of RTD will not be considered as employment during the adjudication of the RFC application. However, if the RFC application is not approved, the unit will remain responsible for any past or future Class A pay associated with the member’s RTD plan.
CAF RTD and Duty
An RTD recommendation is an assignment of MELs that define the parameters of the regular work week for the CAF member. CFAO 24-6 states that "a member is on duty when he is at a specific place, or doing a specific act, because of a military order". For a CAF member on RTD, the CO has supported the medical authority’s recommendation that the member can be in a different place of duty in addition to their normal place of duty; i.e., at home recovering, at the gym rehabilitating, or attending a medical appointment, at certain periods during the regular work week.
Base/Wing RTD Committee
Base/Wing Commanders are encouraged to create an RTD Committee to collaborate in the effective and efficient management, support and promotion of the CAF RTD program on their Base/Wing. Sample Terms of Reference for the RTD Committee are provided at Annex E.
Unit RTD Representative
Unit COs should appoint a Unit RTD Representative to assist in the coordination of support for their members on RTD. Whether a member on RTD is posted to the CAF TG or remains with their home unit, the Unit RTD Representative has the responsibility to track and support their members on RTD. Sample Terms of Reference for the Unit RTD Representative are provided at Annex F.
Unit RTD Representatives should receive the Unit RTD Representative course delivered locally by the TC. This course provides the information, knowledge and practical skills the Unit RTD Representative requires for assisting their members on RTD in developing and implementing their RTD Plan.
CAF Health Services
While the PHCP recommends RTD for the member, the RTD plan is developed collaboratively with the member, the medical team, the chain of command, the Unit RTD Representative, and the Transition Centre RTD Coordinator.
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