The worker is working reduced hours; they should attend treatment when they are not performing suitable employment. However, if they are at full pre-injury hours, it is something you should negotiate.

You can get more information in our post: How Do You Manage Injured Workers Attending Appointments Or Treatment?

Under the Workers Compensation Law, Category One Employers* must have a Return to Work Coordinator who has done the 2-day NSW WorkCover Accredited course.

*Employers whose basic tariff premium exceeds $50,000 (annually) as well as self-insurers and employers who are insured by a specialised insurer and employ more than 20 workers

When selecting a Return to Work Coordinator, they should be able to:
  • Develop and implement a Return to Work program; educate the workforce, keep injury and Return to Work statistics, and develop policies and strategies.
  • Provide information to injured workers on Benefits and the Return to Work process.
  • Determine an injured worker's needs through discussions with the worker, their nominated treating doctor and other treating practitioners.
  • Identify suitable duties; develop and implement a Return to Work plan.
  • Work with the insurer to develop an injury management plan.
  • Be the main point of contact for the injured worker.
  • Coordinate and monitor the worker's progress in treatment, rehabilitation services and return to work plans.
  • Have excellent written and verbal communications skills, including negotiation and listening skills.
  • Have decision-making, organisational and time management skills.

Active OHS conducts the WorkCover Accredited Return to Work Coordinator training.

Absolutely – on both counts. While the injured worker has the express right to choose their own Nominated Treating Doctor in Active OHS’s experience, many companies have engaged with local doctors skilled in workplace health.

These companies’ Return to Work Program incorporates a process where injured workers attend the preferred medical advisor and receive the service and targeted treatment – provided that the injured worker is happy to appoint the selected medical advisor as their Nominated Treating Doctor. This approach proves to be a win-win due to best practice medicine and a focus on Stay at Work

​You can read more about working with a Preferred Medical Advisor on our blog.

Most injured workers return to work without any intervention. However, the 20% of claims that do not return back to work, tend to account for 80% of workers’ comp costs.

Consequently, it is important to know when to refer them to a Workplace Rehabilitation Provider which tends to be on a case-by-case basis. Some guiding principles are:

  • Active OHS as your Preferred Provider
  • The worker is still certified unfit after 4 weeks
  • Reported symptoms seem extreme for the injury
  • Injury is complex
  • History of poor performance
  • Conflict with the supervisor
  • Culture of people staying off work due to injury
  • Psych injury

One of the Obligations of the Employer under the NSW WorkCover legislation is to select and nominate an approved workplace rehabilitation provider. Their details should be included in your Return to Work Program. (See Guidelines for workplace return to work programs on Pages 4 and 22 respectively.)

There is nothing in the Guidelines that says you have to use the Agent’s Panel, but instead, they state that “consideration should be given to the fields of expertise that a particular workplace may require”.

Many of the employers that Active OHS work with – refer directly to us as their nominated preferred Workplace Rehabilitation Provider; it is their right as an Employer.

Best practice Return to Work Programs involves employers taking control of the process and do not redirect responsibility to a third party such as an agent.^

Agents, of course, have a crucial role in the Return to Work process, but it is the employer’s money that is on the line. Additionally, referrals made by employers tend to be more timely, meaning services to get someone back to work can commence as soon as possible.

^ The landmark Michigan study on work disability found that senior management involvement was a common element in organisations with low work absence levels.

Wages are the highest cost of any claim. Therefore, the more time off work, the more this will impact your claims, experience and premium. For this reason, it is essential to adopt a Stay at Work approach to any ache or pain or injury.

The following highest cost is medical expenses which place importance on having a Preferred Medical Advisor who practices evidence-based medicine.

Likewise, the biopsychosocial approach is critical to address all factors impacting the injured worker’s recovery.

The Workers’ Compensation Scheme in NSW is no-fault, so the benefit of the doubt is always with the injured worker.

If they have a WorkCover Certificate of Capacity signed by a Doctor who considers the injury or illness work-related, they can submit a claim. There is also the option for an insurance company to ‘reasonably excuse’ a claim, but for this to proceed to denial – there needs to be good evidence to support not accepting the claim.

Working from home needs to be treated just like the employee is in the office. The person conducting the business needs to ensure their employee’s health, safety, and welfare are being met; this also includes making sure that their workspace is free from hazards.

Importantly, there needs to be an assessment of the home office done by a suitably qualified person along with the agreed and documented procedures around work from home arrangements to ensure there is agreement around hours of work, recess breaks, and the employer’s responsibilities the worker.

The relationship between the injured worker and their doctor is confidential; therefore, permission is required. This can be best managed by including a Consent Form in the Rehab Co-ordinator’s kit. The injured worker would sign – at the time – when they lodge their claim to obtain information relating to the claim on a need-to-know basis.

The injured worker can refuse to give permission. However, that could impact the acceptance of liability as the insurance officer (for example) needs this information.