When a worker sustains an injury that prevents them from working for a period of time or performing their normal duties, having procedures in place for their return to work is essential. Below we go through some of the key elements of the return to work process for employers and workers.

The return to work process

The return to work process is different for everyone, but the goal should always be the same to help workers achieve a prompt and safe return to work.

Help your worker stay at or return to work as soon as possible following a workplace injury by providing suitable duties. Focus on what they can do, not what they can’t. Develop an open line of communication with your worker and their treating medical providers to develop a suitable duties plan.

Suitable duties plan

Suitable duties can be tasks different to your worker’s usual duties, but will allow them to remain in the workplace during their recovery. A suitable duties plan takes into account the worker’s current work capacity, medical advice and individual situation. If you have a return to work rehabilitation co-ordinator at work, we recommend working closely with them, they will know how to best manage the process or you can also ask for assistance from Workcover Queensland if applicable.

If a worker cannot return to work for a period of time from their injury, the worker will need a current work capacity certificate stating they can’t return to normal duties, stating the period and the reasons why, the treating doctor should be aware of this requirement however if you are unsure please contact your employer or your return to work rehabilitation co-ordinator.

Key responsibilities for employers

  • appoint a rehabilitation coordinator if required
  • identify and provide suitable duties for your worker
  • monitor your worker’s progress
  • provide a supportive environment—be understanding of co-workers

Key responsibilities for workers

  • Injured workers are required to participate in a return to work process
  • Injured workers are to ensure they remain in contact with their Return to work co-ordinator or nominated person/s such as the worker cover person
  • Injured worker/s are to ensure they are attending all medical appointments and or rehabilitation services as directed, for example attending physiotherapy to help with a speedy recovering.
  • Injured worker/s are to ensure they do not engage in any activities that aggravate or hinder he recover of injury

Maintaining open and honest communication with your worker is an important part of a positive return to work. Ensuring they are kept up to date, communicated with regularly and supported can prevent them from feeling isolated from their workplace and team.

For more detailed and legal information head to https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/.