A Standpoint Approach to Return-to-Work Coordination: Understanding Union Roles
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Purpose This study examined how the participation of union representatives impacted return-to-work (RTW) processes, and explored key activities undertaken by union representatives involved in return-to-work coordination. Methods Forty-seven RTW coordinators (RTWCs) participated in in-depth, semi-structured interviews in 2018 as part of a cross-Canadian study investigating their strategies for managing challenges in the RTW process. The study included RTWCs from a variety of organisation types, including unionized organizations. Audio-recordings were transcribed, coded, and analysed using constant case comparison and deviant case analysis leading to the development of findings themes. Results Our findings highlight the role of union representatives in RTW processes and how their activities are seen by other parties involved with work accommodation. First, we describe Union RTWC's administrative functions and the extent of their involvement in RTW accommodation negotiations. Second, we examine how Union and Non-union RTWCs framed the same RTW processes differently, according to their own accountabilities. Finally, we identify the positive ways that union participation figured into the RTW process, including playing a role in identifying viable modified work and serving as a trusted party to help reluctant workers engage with RTW plans. Conclusions We introduce a standpoint perspective to shed light on how Union and Non-union RTWCs approached accommodation issues and consider acknowledgement of power relations as a starting point for managing divergent interests.
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