Recovery at work and return to work goals

Helping your worker return to work following a workplace injury is a team effort involving the worker, treatment providers, claims service provider, rehabilitation provider (if involved) and you as the employer.

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The importance of recovery at work

Returning safely to work is an important part of the workers recovery. The earlier the worker can commence the return to work process, the more successful it is likely to be.

There are many known benefits of an early return to work, including:

  • Work helps injured workers to stay active and is an important part of their recovery.
  • Staying active helps to reduce pain.
  • Being at work is an opportunity to connect with people and be part of a community.
  • Working provides financial security.
  • Taking a long-time off work is worse for the injured worker socially, emotionally and physically.
  • Research shows that work promotes recovery and reduces the risk of long-term disability and work loss.
  • The longer they are away from work, the harder it can be to get back to work.

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Return to work goals

There are two main streams of return to work goals:

  • return to work with the same employer
  • return to work with a different employer.

The direction of the return to work goal can be dependent on:

  • the nominated treating doctor recommendations and whether they believe it is safe and appropriate for the injured worker to return to their pre-injury role and/or pre-injury employer
  • the injured worker's restrictions that are put forward by the treatment team and noted on the certificate of capacity
  • the employers ability to source tasks and/or a role that align with the recommendations from the nominated treating doctor
  • the employers effort to minimise or eradicate any hazards that led to the initial injury
  • whether the injured worker feels supported by their employer when considering a return to work.

The return to work goal must be the most direct path back to employment. Only after all possibilities have been explored at the pre-injury workplace or at other workplaces of the pre-injury employer (for example other worksites, offices or locations), should the focus be shifted to return to work with a new employer.

The return to work goals include:

  1. Same employer, same job
  2. Same employer, similar job
  3. Same employer, different job
  4. Different employer, same job
  5. Different employer, similar job
  6. Different employer, different job.
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Return to work with a new employer

Most workers are able to recover and remain at work with their pre-injury employer. However, there are some instances where this is not possible. In these cases, a rehabilitation provider can help an injured worker obtain work with a new employer.

To do this, they will:

  • Participate in medical case conferences to understand the workers current capacity, any barriers preventing upgrades and the restrictions put forward by their nominated treating doctor.
  • Complete a vocational assessment that reviews the workers skill, prior work experience and education to identify suitable work options.
  • Review the workers current capabilities around job seeking and where there are gaps, look to provide job seeking education and assistance.
  • Further facilitate job seeking by reaching out to prospective employers to market the injured workers skills and experience to confirm the injured worker is deemed employable in the open labour market.
  • Highlight any skill gaps and determine whether there are any short courses that may facilitate a return to work.
  • Consider the appropriateness of utilising SIRA-funded programs and services that support the worker to secure employment. These include initiatives such as a Work Trial, Job Cover Placement Program (JCPP) and Connect2work.

SIRA-funded return-to-work initiatives

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