Your return to work obligations

Supporting your injured worker to return to safe and sustainable work as soon as possible is necessary to meet your legal obligations.

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Your obligations

Generally, workers compensation laws place obligations on the employer to:

  • Develop or be involved in the development of the worker's return to work (RTW) plan and comply with the obligations described in the plan.
  • Provide meaningful suitable duties, as far as reasonably practicable, when a worker is able to return to work either on a full-time or part-time basis (provide suitable work that is, as far as reasonably practicable, the same as or equivalent to the work being performed at the time of the injury).
  • Participate in the development of the worker's injury management plan, written by your claims service provider (CSP), and comply with your obligations within it.

Return to work is about helping workers to get back to work, or to stay at work while they recover from work-related injury or illness. Work should be an important part of a worker's recovery and can be used as a form of treatment to gradually increase their capacity and confidence.

Return to work progress and outcomes are more likely to be positive when support, including suitable work options, are tailored to match a worker's specific circumstances and needs.

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What you can do as an employer to facilitate early return to work

  • Make efforts to stay in contact with your worker even if they have no capacity for work.
  • Ensure they feel connected to the workplace – if your employee is not able to attend the workplace, keep them connected through company emails, virtual meetings, invites to work based social events, or by creating a buddy system.
  • Show genuine interest in their recovery.
  • Share a copy of your employee's job description with the nominated treating doctor (NTD) and Case Manager as early as possible.
  • Involve your worker and their supervisor early in considering what work might be suitable to allow them to recover at work.
  • Review both the physical and psychological demands of tasks available in your workplace.
  • Match your worker's capacity to work tasks available – consider tasks closest to your worker's pre-injury duties as the first option.
  • Let your worker, the nominated treating doctor and treatment provider(s) know what suitable work is available, and get their input on how work can be used as treatment to help a worker recover.
  • Where appropriate, offer to participate in medical case conferences to show your support.
  • Aim to provide suitable work that allows a worker to make a valued contribution to the workplace.
  • Proactively promote the 'health benefits of good work' (Health Benefits of Good Work on
  • Set expectations in your wider workplace that workers will be supported to recover at work (this should be included in your Return to Work Program)

For further information on how to support your employee: Checklist: How employers can engage workers after psychological injury (PDF, 0.8MB).

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Benefits of playing an active role in ensuring injured workers return to work

  • Maintain good employer-employee relationships.
  • Your workers (who are vital to your business' success) will recover faster after injury.
  • You retain the skills and knowledge of your injured workers.
  • You reduce the costs of lost productivity.
  • You reduce the costs of recruiting and training new staff to cover the role.
  • You help build morale in the workplace by showing all workers that the injured worker is valued.
  • You reduce the impact of the claim on your worker's compensation insurance premium.
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