Most injured workers want to return to work as quickly as they can. Not only does work pay the bills, but it can also be an enjoyable environment to be a part of each day. However, returning to work after an injury can often mean working with limitations.
The Benefits of Returning to Work
After an injury, many people think that you need to stay away from work. However, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, research has found that returning to work during recovery can positively impact on your overall health and wellbeing.
Typically, the longer you stay away from work, the less chance you have of returning. This can reduce your self-esteem, standing and identity in the community by taking away your daily routine and social interactions. Staying away from work long-term can also increase your risk of mental illness drastically, resulting in adverse physical, psychological, social and financial effects.
By returning to work, you can make great progress with your health. Even with taking on small tasks, working can help rebuild your lifestyle, increase your confidence and maintain your social connectiveness.
When Should You Return to Work After an Injury?
The answer to this question is different for everyone. It is important that you return to work when you feel ready and comfortable. This can mean multiple things, including returning to your original position or even starting a new job with reduced hours.
Your Legal Obligations for Returning to Work
WorkCover or your employer cannot force you back to work if you’re not ready. Nevertheless, once a workers’ compensation claim has been lodged and you are starting to recover from your injury, you have a legal responsibility to try to get back to work.
Your legal obligations are as follows:
- You must make a reasonable effort to return to work in a suitable position.
- You must make a proper effort to participate and cooperate in planning your return to work.
- You must comply with reasonable requests and directions by an occupational rehabilitation service if one has been appointed.
- You must participate in return to work assessments and rehabilitation requirements for future employment. WorkCover usually requires you to agree to a suitable duties program as a part of the return to work process.
Failing to reasonably attempt to meet any of these obligations could result in a suspension in payment of your workers’ compensation benefits. WorkCover will often obtain medical reports from your treating doctors when instigating a return to work program after injury.
What Should You Do When Returning to Work After An Injury?
When getting back to work, the law requires you to mitigate your loss. This means that you must do whatever you reasonably can to reduce your own losses. To do this, it is recommended that you seek advice about your injury and become an active participant in the return to work process.
Talk to your doctor
It is always essential to follow your doctor’s advice about returning to work. Your doctor will be able to advise you what restrictions should be placed on your duties, for example a restriction on lifting of weights or requiring more frequent rest breaks. This will help you remove your risk of re-injury. Your doctor can also help with any problems you may encounter during your attempt at returning to work.
Talk to your employer
Your employer is your best point-of-call for planning your return to work. Together, you can help to identify suitable alternatives or modified duties, and suggest ways your work could be altered to accommodate restrictions because of the injury.
Talk to WorkCover
If you are struggling with a return to work program, you can contact WorkCover and tell them about any difficulties you are having. So long as everybody is informed, a return to work program can be altered, or postponed until you are ready.
What if You Are Unable to Return to Work?
For some people, it is not possible to return to work after an injury. This may be due to medical reasons associated with your pre-injury tasks or duties. If this is case, there are several routes you can take, including:
- Joining the WorkCover’s Recover at Work program. This involves being placed with a ‘host employer’ to help rebuild your skills and return to your pre-injury role.
- Retraining and reskilling for a new job or job hunting for a role that uses your current skillset.
- Participating in the Employment Connect program to help increase your employability after an injury.
Speak to a Lawyer About Your Accident
At GC Law, we understand that returning to work after an injury can be hard. Our experienced lawyers are here to help you reclaim your life and recover without having to worry about the legalities.
Get in touch with our team today for a free consultation and speak with a qualified lawyer who can explain your options.