Returning to work after an injury

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work injury

Although not common, injuries can occur in the workplace and around 119,000 Australians make successful worker’s compensation claims each year.

Workplace injuries can range from minor to severe and include both physical and mental injuries. If you have been injured at work it is important to focus on your health first and foremost. The quicker that you make recovery the sooner you will be able to get back to work, but here is what you should know before planning your return to the workplace.

Am I allowed time off work to recover from my injury?

If your injury occurred at work then your workplace should be informed of both the injury sustained and the circumstance under which it occurred. Your workplace is obligated to allow you to take time to recover from your injury, but you should ensure you keep your employer well informed of your recovery and update them when you have advice from a medical professional about how long you are likely to need off work.

Staying in regular contact with your employer will also help them to create a return-to-work plan that is safe and sensible for both parties.

How will I know when it is safe to return to work?

There are three things that need to fall into place before it is safe for you to return to work after suffering an injury.

The first is that you will personally need to feel ready to return to work. If you are still experiencing pain or do not believe you will be able to perform your duties yet, then you should not push yourself until you feel ready.

The second factor is the professional opinion of your GP or another medical professional handling your treatment. A doctor is best placed to advise you about when it is safe to return to work in a way that will not exacerbate your injury. They will also advise if you will need to make changes to the way you work or your duties or if a reduction to your hours or workload is required.

Finally, you will need to speak to your employer. Your employer must ensure that it is safe for you to return to work, and this may be done by taking the advice of your doctor and reducing hours, responsibilities, or workload in a way that aligns with their recommendations.

If possible within the scope of your role, your employer may also be able to provide flexible working arrangements such as working from home or taking more or longer breaks than you would on a typical working day before your injury.

Not all return-to-work plans are the same, and yours will need to be tailored to suit your own circumstances, injury, role, and the recommendations of medical professionals.

What will happen if I am no longer able to perform the same role I had prior to my injury?

Whether or not you are able to perform the same role when you return to work post-injury will depend on if you are physically able, the advice provided by your doctor, and if your employer reasonably believes you are able to perform the role.

If you have suffered a severe workplace injury and are physically or mentally unable to perform your job to the same capacity you did before your injury, WorkCover may:

  • organise for you to be retrained so that you can change roles within the organisation; or
  • help you to find a job that is more suitably aligned with your working capacity with a new employer.

For most people, returning to work has very positive outcomes for their mental health and wellbeing. If you have been injured at work and need advice about a workers compensation claim, speak to our Compensation lawyers today on (07) 4052 0701.