Involvement in recovery and return to work (RTW) planning
Support injured workers to recover by providing certainty about what to expect when they are ready to return to work.
Reassure workers of their value at the workplace. Start the process as soon as an injury or illness is reported. Provide your worker with the Injured at work (DOC, 0.05 MB) procedure template, direct them to the WorkSafe website, and share information about the benefits of active, medically supported treatment and planning for a timely return to work.
Review your company induction to make sure it includes information on how to report a work-related injury or illness, and how you will support and involve them in recovery and RTW planning.
- Take a person-centred approach by making the injured worker front and centre of their recovery and RTW planning.
- Provide open communication, early intervention and treatment, and support that recognises an injured worker’s individual needs can help a worker’s recovery and RTW. The benefits of this approach include improved recovery and RTW outcomes, improved quality of life and reduced claim duration.
- Work together to consider suitable duties and reasonable workplace modifications.
Use supportive communication to:
- talk with your injured worker to understand their experience, preferences and views
- plan with your injured worker – to define and agree on their goals, the steps to reach them, identify any barriers and look for ways to help with recovery and RTW timeframes
- focus on your worker’s strengths, abilities and skills, and how these can contribute to positive outcomes. Focus on their capabilities and accommodate workplace changes to support their recovery and RTW.
Returning to work after an injury or illness can be daunting. You should make every effort to show supportive leadership to encourage injured workers to provide input to their recovery and return to work plan. Ask for their contribution to ensure the primary focus is on helping them.
In some cases, it’s not possible for safety or practical reasons for a worker to return to their normal job, temporarily or permanently. In these instances, be open and truthful with the worker about any limitations, and work with them and the insurer to identify other opportunities in or outside the business. Continue to communicate with injured workers so they feel supported and connected at the workplace.
The Recover at Work program places injured workers in a short-term host employment with another employer with a proven track record of successful recovery and return to work outcomes. The aim is to provide a supportive work environment while injured workers rebuild ‘work fitness’ and, if possible, return to their pre-injury role.
Have regular conversations to consider individual recovery needs. Work together to:
- find solutions that work for your injured worker’s individual circumstances and the workplace. Find a fair balance between what is important to your worker and what is important to you as the employer
- put into practice, agreed plans and actions. Develop formal plans and update them to track progress and make changes when needed
- use clear and agreed communication strategies and agreed timeframes that meet the needs of your injured worker and the employer.
When planning recovery and return to work, consider the impact it may have on co-workers. Plan and consult to minimise any negative perceptions or disruptions.
Involve the workers’ family and treatment providers to support the worker’s recovery and return to work. Medical and rehabilitation providers and personal supports such as family, friends and colleagues can help to foster a positive attitude during recovery and return to work. If any parties are negatively influencing the recovery and return to work process, raise these concerns with your insurer.
- Share with your workers the benefits of Getting back to work.
- Use the Suitable duties plan template (DOC, 0.06 MB) to negotiate recovery and return to work based on the work capacity certificate, the workers’ individual needs and preferences, and available duties at the workplace.
- Discuss their preferred method of communication. Telephone conversations may suit initially due to mobility, however, face to face meetings in the workplace when return to work is being planned may prove more effective.
- Be flexible if workers’ needs and preferences change during the recovery and return to work process.
- Lead by example and encourage supervisors and co-workers to support the returning worker.
View the Resources page for information and tips on how to improve your systems and processes to build your safety capability including prioritising organisational safety, importance of consultation, representation and participation, and understanding your legal obligations.
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