The HR Advisor

Managing Return To Work After Injury

Unfortunately, accidents do happen.  Car accidents, workplace accidents, sporting injuries, stress, cancer, or simply slipping over when you do the weekly shop all create injuries that can require extended time off work.

Getting people to return to work as quickly as possible is good for both you as a business, and for the employee in terms of their psychological wellbeing.

If the person was injured in your workplace or in the course of their employment, you also have a legal responsibility under the Accident Compensation Act 1985. Under this legislation, you are required to actively help your employee return to work and ensure that they are not treated unfavourably or discriminated against because of their injury or illness.

One of the key legal requirements if the person was injured in the workplace is ensuring that you have an appropriately senior and trained Return to Work Co-ordinator appointed to work with the injured employee.

Every workplace is required to have a Return to Work Co-ordinator. If your rateable remuneration is over $2 million, then must have a Return to Work Co-ordinator appointed at all times. If less than $2 million, you only need one for the duration of your legal obligations to an injured worker. This is generally not a full time role, but one done in conjunction with their normal duties.

Return to Work Co-ordinators should complete one of the two-day training courses offered by approved training providers, to ensure that they fully understand their roles and responsibilities. While you can pick up bits of information from WorkSafe, investing in formal training will help you meet your obligations and will deliver better outcomes for your business.

The information around return to work and all the procedures you need to follow is extremely complex.

In a nutshell, if someone is injured at work, you are required to:

  • Appoint a Return to Work Co-ordinator
  • Hold the employee’s job open for 12 months
  • Provide occupational rehabilitation to the employee
  • Help the employee return to their job within those 12 months (if they are physically capable of doing so)
  • Help the employee return to a different or a modified job within 12 months (if they are physically incapable of returning to their previous role)
  • Implement workplace aids or modifications to assist the employee return to work (also known as reasonable adjustment)

Return to work is not an all or nothing equation. People do not need to be 100% fully fit before returning to work. Gradual returns to work after injury, where hours or duties are gradually increased are the norm rather than the exception.

If you need assistance determining your return to work after injury program or policy, have a chat with our team. In the meantime, here is some helpful information:

Topics: HR Advice