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Stay at Work and Return to Work: A Smart Strategy for Retaining Valued Employees

Whether it employs thousands or just a few, an organization's workforce is its most valuable asset. So when unexpected injury or disability prevents an experienced, valued employee from working temporarily, employers may face difficult choices. Most want to do their best to support employees. At the same time, they have a business to run. Then again, training new workers incurs time and money.

Fortunately, employers can use a number of strategies to help valued employees stay at work or return to work following the onset of illness or disability. These strategies are outlined in a new fact sheet released by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division and Office of Disability Employment Policy. Titled Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work: Supporting Employees Who Experience Unexpected Illness or Disability, this publication describes several approaches to employee retention in such situations, including taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and obtaining assistance from their state's vocational rehabilitation agency or local American Job Center.

Regardless of what strategies they use, it is important that employers remain positive and flexible. Often, just a few simple modifications to an employee's work environment, duties or schedule can facilitate them remaining a valuable member of the team. What's more, in many instances, work itself can play an important role in the recovery process — benefitting employee and employer alike, for years to come.

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