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The return to work process

The return to work process is different for everyone, but the goal should always be the same. WorkCover Queensland works with the worker, employer and allied health professionals to help them achieve a positive stay at, or prompt return to work outcome. Our claim and return to work process diagram helps you understand the steps involved in getting workers back to work as quickly and safely as possible.

There are many simple and cost effective ways a successful stay at or return to work can be achieved.

What you can do

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. WorkCover will work with you, your worker and their treating medical providers to develop a 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.

WorkCover Queensland supports the position statement, Realising the Health Benefits of Work. The paper highlights the longer someone is off work the less likely they are to return. Providing suitable duties will help your worker recover at work while reducing disruption to their personal and work life, and disruption to your business.

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. It can also decrease the likelihood of someone seeking a common law claim.

Recovering at work

The sooner you start planning, the better the chances are of a positive stay at, or prompt return to work. Identify ways to recover at work, even while the claim is being assessed. Open and regular communication between everyone involved is crucial to make the return to work safe, quick and successful.

The rehabilitation process may include changing the worker's duties, tools and equipment or arranging for them to move into a different area of the business. If they have to take a break from work, you may need to work with them to identify alternative hours and days. For example, work a three day week instead of their normal five. Remember to think about what the worker can do, not what they can't.

Communicate during return to work

Once the claim has been made, talk with your:

  • WorkCover claims representative or customer advisor—let them know you've begun planning your worker's stay at or return to work.
  • medical providers—discuss suitable duties so they have an understanding of the tasks involved in your worker's role. Focus on capacity, not incapacity.
  • workplace—ensure the immediate supervisor, and colleagues where relevant, know how and what the worker is doing to recover.

Maintain open and honest communication so the worker feels supported during their recovery. WorkCover will work with all parties to monitor and revise the return to work plan, including timeframes for treatment and recovery.

Suitable duties plan

If the worker is unable to return to their normal duties, WorkCover will develop a suitable duties plan to help them stay at, or return to work quickly. A suitable duties plan takes into account the worker's current work capacity, medical advice and individual situation. Sometimes your business won't have appropriate suitable duties available and in these instances, we may find a host placement with a host employer.

Last updated
25 October 2017

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