How to continue to support your worker after a claim is declined

It's important to adopt an empathetic and supportive approach towards a worker who has a psychological injury, even after a claim is declined.

There are many reasons why a claim may be declined, one of which is that the injury wasn't entirely work-related.

The dispute of the claim doesn't suggest that there is no injury, but rather that the legislation cannot be satisfied.

Your worker may feel overwhelmed by the dispute decision and you may notice a deterioration or a worsening of their mental health.

As an employer there are some steps you can take to support your worker:

Communication is critical

  • Check-in with your worker: find out how they are feeling and whether there is any additional support they require. If you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) within your business, you may wish to offer this service. Alternatively, you may wish to direct your worker to some of the free mental health hotlines available to Australians.
  • Recommend that your worker reaches out to their treatment team to find ways to continue treatment outside of their claim. For example, your worker may be able to access psychological support through a mental health care plan.
  • Check with your Claims Service Provider when the last payment will be made to your worker and ensure your worker is set up on the pay system for timely payment of wages
  • Where appropriate, schedule regular calls with your worker to make them feel connected to the workplace. Or if your workers are agreeable, discuss whether a buddy system would be beneficial to keep your worker engaged with the workplace and to promote a sense of re-connection with their colleagues.
  • If you have a return to work co-ordinator, ask them to stay in contact with the worker to discuss their return to work goals, timeframes, and what modifications they may need to facilitate a return to work. Allow your worker to contribute to the return to work conversations.

Be flexible and considerate

  • Adopt a flexible approach to return to work. For example, allowing your worker later start times, a graded return to work with reduced days and hours, and opportunities to attend medical appointments where appropriate.
  • Be open to potentially modifying some aspects of the job, for example reducing exposure to high-stress situations, simplifying tasks, providing greater support like putting instructions in writing, modifying the work area, allowing different reporting arrangements where appropriate or changing the work location if suggested by the nominated treating doctor (NTD).
  • Be considerate of your worker's current restrictions. For example, your worker may temporarily request afternoon-only shifts because they can be impacted by their medications and feel that their cognition and memory can be impaired in the mornings.
  • Offer to attend a medical case conference with your worker and their treatment team. Case conferences are a great way for all parties to openly discuss return to work, any restrictions the worker may have and what you can offer as suitable duties.
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