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Confusion Over ‘RTW’… Does It Mean ‘Return To Work’ Or ‘Right To Work’?

If HR isn’t confusing enough, the abbreviation ‘RTW’ is rightly important for two entirely different meanings, don’t get them confused!

 While ‘RTW’ can be a reference to ‘Return To Work’, it is also commonly used as an abbreviation for ‘Right To Work’. ‘RTW’ has different meanings that are both equally important and it is crucial that you know and understand their differences within the workplace.

Fortunately for you, we’re going over the meanings and key information for both below.

RTW – Right To Work 

‘Right To Work’ typically comes into play when new employees are due to start at your  company, it is a legal requirement to ensure that employees are allowed to work in the UK. 

An individual’s ‘Right To Work’ has to be established before they can start working at your company. The check can be performed as a physical document check or performed via an online check. 

A new employee is required to provide evidence of their right to work in the UK, with a valid form of evidence. 

What is classed as valid evidence for proving one’s Right To Work?

Proof of one of the following should be provided…

  • Passport
  • Birth Certificate 
  • Right To Remain Documents (if required)
  • Biometric residence permit number
  • Biometric residence card number

For more support regarding accepted forms of evidence, speak with a HR Specialist.

PLEASE NOTE: Brexit has changed some of the requirements – if you have not familiarised yourself with these changes post-brexit it is highly recommended you do so. 

What do you check for to ensure a valid Right To Work?

If you are directly dealing with the employment of an individual you are required to check their right to work documents. To ensure the documents are genuine and the individual has a right to work in the UK, you must… 

  • Check the photos are consistent with the appearance of the individual 
  • DOB are correct and consistent 
  • Check the document is genuine 
  • Expiry dates for time-limited permissions to be in the UK (if applicable)
  • Check work restrictions 
  • Check reasoning for any concerns you have

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RTW – Return To Work 

‘Return To Work’ is typically known as a meeting that occurs when an employee returns to work following leave for reasons such as illness, maternity leave, sabbatical, etc. 

Conducting a RTW meeting is a key part of ensuring that the staff returning are made aware of any changes that may impact them and their work, it also allows for any reasonable adjustments to be made and opportunities for risk assessments to be taken, etc.

Quite often a return to work follows a significant amount of leave, especially if the individual has been injured or had a child since they have last been at work. Therefore conducting a ‘Return To Work’ meeting provides a paper trail of what you as the employer have done to be accommodating for your employee upon their return e.g. making reasonable adjustments. It is always good in HR if a procedure is followed – this avoids any nasty, unexpected costs!

What should be discussed during a RTW meeting?

Conducting a ‘Return To Work’ meeting will help you better understand and make sure the employee is ready to return to work. 

During the meeting you should…

  • Discuss work updates (anything they missed while they were off)
  • Understand if your employee needs any additional support 
  • Consider medical notes (if necessary)
  • Discuss reasonable adjustments 
  • Discuss an employee assistance programme (EAP)
  • Agree on a plan that is suitable for everyone involved

What are reasonable adjustments likely to be?

Reasonable adjustments vary case by case. Generally speaking, the following are identified as common methods of making reasonable adjustments for an employee returning to work…

Making changes to…

  • An office desk or working equipment
  • Working hours
  • Daily duties or tasks

Making these changes help to get an employee back to work quicker and easier, without preventing any further problems. 

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Struggling to keep on top of your HR Responsibilities?

You might benefit from an outsourced HR consultant. Paul Palmer at Coppice HR has a wealth of experience across businesses (SMEs to multinationals, UK and Europe), in addition to relevant qualifications (MCIPD and MA). Get in touch by calling 07814 008478 or emailing paul@coppicehr.com.

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