These guidelines support rehabilitation and return to work outcomes for the Queensland workers’ compensation scheme. They provide evidence-based ways that insurers can meet their legal obligations and work towards achieving better practice.
Workers' compensation laws put obligations on insurers to support rehabilitation and return to work (RRTW). This includes:
- all Queensland insurers must have an accredited rehabilitation and return to work program (ARRTW program)
- a rehabilitation and return to work plan (RRTW plan) must be developed for all workers who are injured at work, in consultation with the worker, their employer and treating medical providers
- a RRTW plan must outline a worker’s rehabilitation objectives and steps to achieve these.
There are three evidence-based guidance documents to support insurers to meet their obligations and to work towards achieving better practice.
The guidance documents do not create new obligations for insurers or expand existing obligations.
- Understanding rehabilitation and return to work terms, roles and responsibilities (PDF, 0.41 MB) establishes clarity and consistent understanding of RRTW terminology, roles and responsibilities for all scheme stakeholders. Terms in this document have the same meaning as defined in the Act.
- Accredited rehabilitation and return to work program guideline – for insurers (PDF, 0.47 MB) outlines the minimum requirements that an insurer must meet to have its RRTW program accredited by the Workers' Compensation Regulator, the purpose of an insurer's ARRTW program, how it can support an injured worker.
- Rehabilitation and return to work plan guideline – for insurers (PDF, 0.9 MB) supports insurers to understand and fulfil their obligations relating to RRTW plans.
It provides evidence that return to work planning improves return to work outcomes, and explains better outcomes are achieved by a supportive, tailored, person-centred approach, with an injured worker at the centre of return to work planning and their insurer, employer, and treating health providers work collaboratively towards a shared goal.
Insurers will begin implementing the guidelines from May 2023.
The guidelines were developed in response to the 2021 Safe Work Australia National Return to Work Survey results, declining scheme return to work data performance (PDF, 0.49 MB), and scheme intelligence gathered through complaints management and claims and rehabilitation compliance audits.
The guidelines have been informed by extensive consultation with all scheme stakeholders, including insurers, and employer, worker, legal and allied health representatives.
While the new guidelines are targeted at insurers, they also establish insurer, employer and worker responsibilities for RRTW planning, how these interact, and why it’s important to work together to achieve positive outcomes for an injured worker.
Employers play a key role in return to work planning, and an employer’s attitude towards a returning worker can have a critical influence on return to work outcomes.
An injured worker’s tailored RRTW plan, which is coordinated by an insurer, is an important tool for an employer to influence return to work outcomes and to work collaboratively with a worker, their insurer, and a worker’s treating health providers towards a shared goal.
If possible, employers should offer alternative work duties to support recovery at work. The suitable duties program an employer develops for an injured worker details how to do this and is a key component of a worker’s RRTW plan.
By supporting an injured worker to return to work quickly and safely, employers will improve return to work outcomes for a worker, as well as improve productivity and reduce costs for their business.
The guidelines will be reviewed annually to ensure they remain effective, and evidence-based. Annual reviews will consider whether this approach has resulted in improvements for Queensland’s scheme and stakeholders, including positively impacting worker experience, return to work outcomes, and administrative impacts for insurers.
Contact email@example.com for more information.
Subscribe to the Rehabilitation and Return to Work e-bulletin for the latest rehabilitation and return to work news, including updates on these guidelines.