In this information sheet, we’d like to cover some important questions regarding returning to work after an injury.
Following a work injury, once your GP certifies that you have capacity for some type of work, you should make enquiries with your employer as to suitable duties that you can do at work within the restrictions on your certificate of capacity.
It is important to remember that your employer cannot dismiss you because of a work-related injury within 6 months of when you first became unfit as a result of the injury.
In accordance with section 49 of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 (“the Act”), your employer is required to provide employment that is both suitable and, as far as reasonably practicable, the same as or equivalent to the employment you were in at the time of the injury. There are exceptions to this including you resigning, your employer terminated your employment for reasons other than related to your fitness for employment following the work injury or it is not reasonably practicable to provide employment by the employer.
There are strict penalties that can apply where an employer fails to comply with this section.
Under the Act if you have capacity to work, you must make reasonable efforts to return to work in suitable employment or pre-injury employment at the worker’s place of employment or at another place of employment. If you do not do so, you risk your weekly payments being stopped.
In accordance with section 52 of the Act an employer must establish a return-to-work program to assist you in returning to work following an injury.
Usually, someone in the workplace is nominated to assist you in the return to work program and the program can also be facilitated by a third party rehabilitation provider who liaises with all parties to establish a formal written plan.
It is important that during this stage, your GP stands firm on what your capacity is and any restrictions and is not pressured by either your employer or the rehabilitation provider to increase or your capacity or reduce restrictions before you are ready as it may ultimately undermine your recovery.
Most injured workers return to work following an injury with few problems. But for those who are finding the process difficult and may be feeling pressure from an appointed rehabilitation provider to return to work before you have sufficiently recovered, you should obtain independent legal advice.
Most injured workers in NSW qualify for free legal advice provided they contact a WIRO approved solicitor, such as Amanda Robinson at The Law Office of Conrad Curry. You can either make an appointment by calling 02 4050 0330 or book online.