• What are the benefits for the employer when returning an injured worker back to work early?
    • Reduced disruption impacting productivity.
    • Reduced staff turnover.
    • Helping a worker's return to the workplace, even if in an alternate role initially.
    • Improved staff morale.
    • Minimised retraining expenses.
    • Reduced claims costs and impact on premium.
  • What if the employer has no suitable duties available at the workplace?
    • Because an employer must take all reasonable steps to help or provide suitable duties for their injured worker, if they have no suitable duties available, they need to discuss this with their insurer. The medical certificate describes the injured worker's work capacity, so the lack of availability of suitable duties does not affect the worker's compensation benefits. The insurer and the employer will work together to provide opportunities such as host employment for the injured worker to complete their rehabilitation.
  • What can an employer do to help a worker remain at or get back to work?
    • The actions that you take early after a worker is injured can affect the return to work outcome. Some tips to consider include:
      - contact the worker and offering personal support
      - outline the employers and workers rights and responsibilities for return to work and help them with the claim and return to work process
      - ask the injured worker how you can support them to remain at or get back to work
      - address any barriers to return to work that the injured worker identifies
      - let them know that their safety and wellbeing is important and how you will address the risks that led to the injury.
  • What are the employer's obligations?
    • An employer with a business that employs workers in Queensland must have an accident insurance policy with WorkCover Queensland to protect against costly claims for compensation. There are penalties if you don’t. You cannot pay your own claim costs. Employers meeting criteria may self-insure, but the majority of employers in Queensland will be required to insure with WorkCover Queensland. If you manage claims well, you give yourself every opportunity to pay less for the accident insurance. As an employer you must:
      - ensure medical treatment and assessment
      - record details of the work-related injury or illness
      - provide the worker with relevant return to work information
      - notify of an incident at the workplace by emailing completed incident notification form (PDF, 184.21 KB) to whsq.aaa@oir.qld.gov.au or phone on 1300 362 128
      - offer alternative duties
      - maintain accurate case notes and important details about an injured worker's rehabilitation and return to work program
  • What is early intervention?
    • The best way to achieve a successful return to work is to start planning the worker’s return to work as early as possible.
      When the employer encourages early reporting of difficulties such as soreness, it can lead to changes in the workplace or professional help. This leads to the worker remaining at work rather than a need to return to work after being away from the workplace.
  • How can supervisors and managers assist the injured worker?
    • Supervisors and managers play a crucial part in the return to work process.
      They develop employees, monitor performance and ensure productivity and know the best position to manage return to work. Being onsite, managers and supervisors can act early and offer support to workers. Communications skills, understanding the business processes, knowing how to support return to work and being a team player is important in building a positive return to work culture.
      For more information about how supervisors can contribute to return to work, watch our webinar "What do supervisors need to ensure positive outcomes for injured workers".
  • Do I need to employ a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator?
    • In Queensland, you must employ a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator (RRTWC) if an employer pays annual wages of more than $7,124,520 (5200 times QOTE) for the preceding financial year, or are in a high risk industry with wages of more than $3,562,260 (2600 times QOTE). The thresholds of $7,124,520 and $3,562,260 have been lifted from the previous levels of $7,049,000 and $2,146,000 respectively.
      For high risk industries this requirement equals approximately 50 workers earning average ordinary time wages, and in other industries approximately 100 workers earning average ordinary times wages.
      For small to medium sized businesses who don't meet the criteria to employ a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator, research supports that the best return to work outcomes are achieved when someone at the workplace is allocated responsibility for supporting an injured worker to remain at or return to work as soon and as safely possible to do so.
  • Does an employer have to provide suitable or alternate duties?
    • In Queensland, the employer must take all reasonable steps to assist or provide the worker with rehabilitation unless it is not reasonably practicable to provide the worker with suitable duties.
  • How do alternative or suitable duties assist with return to work?
    • If the injured worker is unable to return to their pre-injury duties, alternative duties are duties allocated to the injured worker during the rehabilitation process to help them remain at work. They should be matched to the worker’s capabilities, be meaningful, continue for a limited time and help the worker to increase their functional capacity.
      All alternative or suitable duties should be developed in consultation with the worker, supervisor and doctor.
      When identifying suitable duties, consider:
      - the nature and extent of the injury
      - the worker’s age, education and skills
      - the range of roles within the workplace
      - work experience, transferrable skills and aptitude for retraining and performing new job demands
      - the impact of the return to work on co-workers, customers and the public.
  • Can a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator or employer attend doctor appointments with the injured worker?
    • When a worker is injured, it is important that they consult with a doctor as soon as possible.
      You can ask the injured worker if they would like you to attend the appointment so you can advise the doctor of changes that can be made at the workplace and alternative duties available to support the worker with remaining at work. Remember, the worker is entitled to a private consultation with the doctor and you can join the consultation following this.
      It is always recommended to notify the doctor that you will be attending the appointment with the injured worker and the purpose of your attendance, that is, to share information about the workplace that will help the worker get back to work early and safely.
      An injured worker or the doctor has a right to say no to your request to attend. Offer to provide written information to the doctor about workplace support available to help the worker get back to work safely. Leave your contact details.
  • How should the employer prepare for the doctor’s visit?
    • To assist the doctor, be prepared and know what you want to ask before you get to the appointment.
      Prepare an injured worker or workplace pack to give to the doctor. The pack can contain:
      - claim form or how to lodge a claim
      - information on the workers’ compensation process including workers and employers rights and responsibilities
      - authority to release information
      - your contact details so the worker and doctor can contact you
      - details of the role, duties the worker performs (photos, job register)
      - alternative duties available
      - policy and procedures which outline the company policy to support workers to get back to work
  • What are questions that an employer could ask the doctor to assist with the injured workers return to work?
    • What has been done to cause the injury?
    • What is the diagnosis?
    • How long will it take to recover?
    • What other treatment is needed?
    • Do you think the worker can remain at work with workplace changes or alternative duties?
    • Can the worker start back at work on reduced hours or modified duties? If so, what are they?
    • Do you think the tasks I have shown you are okay?
    • Is there anything else I can do to help the worker to get back to work?
    • What is the best way to communicate with you?

Injured workers

  • What are the benefits of getting back to work?
    • As a worker, your participation and commitment to rehabilitation means:
      - returning to work quickly and safely.
      - less disruption to family, work and social life.
      - improved employment and financial security.
      - less time spent recovering from your injury.
      - a reduced level of impairment.
  • What are my obligations?
    • Under the Act, workers are required to cooperate with their insurer, their employer and their doctors. This helps the insurer make a decision on the claim and also helps workers receive appropriate medical treatment and rehabilitation as quickly as possible.
    • To make sure a claim is made efficiently, as a worker you must:
      - complete and sign all necessary forms
      - let your insurer know if your condition or treatment changes
      - make sure your insurer has all current workers' compensation medical certificates.
    • You can only receive workers' compensation benefits if a copy of these is provided.
  • What are suitable duties?
    • Suitable duties, also known as light or alternative duties, are meaningful job tasks selected from the injured worker's usual job or another role. They are agreed between you, your employer and your doctor, and take into account your usual job, age, education and training, work experience and the nature of your injury.
    • Suitable duties are used when you can do some work but can't do all of your usual day-to-day jobs. Suitable duties aim to return you to your pre-injury job and are suited to your injury and stage of recovery.
  • Do I have to participate in suitable duties?
    • In Queensland, injured workers are obliged to participate in suitable duties which are provided by the employer and supported by the doctor.
    • It is recommended that all suitable duties planning is consultative and involves the worker, employer, supervisor and treating doctor.
  • How does workplace rehabilitation work?
    • It's about helping you keep your valuable work skills so you can go back to the job you had before you were injured or another suitable job. Workplace rehabilitation can involve a suitable duties program, on-the-job training for new job skills and special help if you are severely injured.
  • How do I lodge a workers' compensation claim?
    • To lodge a workers' compensation claim you will need to contact your employer's insurer, which in most cases will be WorkCover Queensland. Call 1300 362 128 or lodge your claim online.
    • If your employer is self-insured, contact your employer's workers' compensation unit or find a self-insurer.

Health professionals

  • How do I order more workers' compensation medical certificates?
  • If I indicate I don't want to be consulted about my patient's rehabilitation, who takes on this role?
    • The insurer will arrange a provider such as an occupational physician, physiotherapist or occupational therapist. You can nominate a particular provider on the medical certificate, or contact the insurer.
  • What are employers' responsibilities for suitable duties programs?
    • An employer must take all reasonable steps to help or provide their workers with rehabilitation and suitable duties while they are being paid compensation, including to:
      - develop a suitable duties program in consultation with the worker
      - keep the program and any amendments consistent with the current medical certificate or report for the worker's injury
      - document what are meaningful suitable duties that meet the objective of the worker's rehabilitation
      - give the insurer a copy of the suitable duties program
      - regularly review the suitable duties and progressively upgrading the program consistent with the worker's recovery.
    • Employers can engage a Rehabilitation and Return to Work Coordinator(or RRTWC) to do this for them.
  • What if the employer has no suitable duties available at the workplace?
    • Because the employer must take all reasonable steps to help or provide suitable duties for their injured worker, they need to discuss this with the insurer. The medical certificate describes the injured worker's work capacity, so the lack of availability of suitable duties does not affect the worker's compensation benefits. The insurer and the employer will work together to provide opportunities such as host employment for the injured worker to complete their rehabilitation.
  • Do I get paid for completing the workers' compensation medical certificate?
    • No. The current legislation does not allow insurers to pay medical practitioners for completing a workers' compensation medical certificate. The increased consultation fee levels take into account the completion of the medical certificate. See medical fees.
  • Does the worker need to be 100% fit to return to work?
    • Remaining at work where possible, or getting back to work, is a crucial part of an injured worker's rehabilitation. It reduces the financial and emotional impact on workers and their families. With support from the doctor and the right support from the workplace, injured workers can stay working on alternate duties and return to normal life.
  • Is it OK if an employer representative sees a doctor after a consultation and requests information concerning their worker?
    • The employer's active early involvement is encouraged and is crucial to the success of an injured worker's return to work. By seeing the employer (with the worker's consent) at the time of the initial consultation, the return to work journey can commence as a joint approach. It is helpful if the employer supplies information such as photos of work processes and other jobs available at the workplace. As the treating doctor you may receive requests for further updates from the employer and the insurer following the initial return to work discussions.
  • What are some practical ways of assisting patients back to employment and optimum functioning?
    • Recommend a graduated increase in activity and setting a timeline for return to work.
    • Talk to the employer (preferably while the patient is with you), especially about how to modify the workplace and work duties to allow return to work.
    • Collaboratively identify barriers - and solutions - in the workplace.
    • Be clear about what health care can and can't achieve.
    • Identify possible sources of support, including family members, co-workers and relevant government services.

Last updated
26 October 2017