Procedure: Return to work
To inform all University staff of the expectations regarding return to work management of staff members and former employees of the University who have sustained a work related injury or illness. This is to ensure compliance with the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act) (Cth), the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and the University’s Work Health & Safety (WHS) Management System. This procedure is linked to the University’s Work Health and Safety and Rehabilitation policies.
Approved workplace rehabilitation provider is a body, firm or person approved by Comcare under the SRC Act to provide rehabilitation programs.
Reasonable Adjustment refers to the workplace changes or "workplace adjustments" that need to be made to enable the staff member to perform the inherent requirements of the job.
Rehabilitation assessment is an assessment under section 36 of the SRC Act of an employee’s capability of undertaking, or continuing to undertake, a rehabilitation program.
Rehabilitation authority is the employer responsibility and authority under the SRC Act to manage the return to work of their injured employees.
Rehabilitation program is a structured series of activities and assistance to maintain or return an employee to suitable employment; maintain or improve an employee’s activities of daily living; and includes a return to work plan.
Return to work hierarchy means the following descending order of goals in relation to maintaining or returning an employee to suitable employment:
- same job/same employer;
- similar job/ same employer;
- new job/same employer;
- same job/new employer;
- similar job/new employer; or
- new job/new employer.
Return to work plan is a plan of activities and assistance to maintain an injured employee at, or return him or her, to work, agreed to by the staff member, supervisor and the nominated treating doctor (NTD).
- This procedure applies to all staff members and former employees of the University who have sustained a work related injury or illness during their period of employment at the University.
- The University is committed to provide suitable employment and return to work assistance for injured and ill staff members.
- This document informs staff, supervisors and Human Resources (HR) practitioners involved in the return to work process of the return to work hierarchy, provision of suitable duties, work trials and the redeployment process.
- The University’s Rehabilitation Case Manager (RCM), within the Work Environment Group (WEG) manages the processes outlined in this procedure including deciding whether the staff member undertakes a rehabilitation assessment and/or rehabilitation program. This is done in consultation with College/Division Human Resource areas and the staff member’s supervisor, as appropriate, to ensure an inclusive approach.
- This document is read in conjunction with the University’s:
- Rehabilitation policy;
- Injury management, rehabilitation and compensation procedure, which details responsibilities and expectations of key stakeholders including staff, supervisors and HR Practitioners;
- Management of non-work related injury and illness procedure; and
- Early intervention assistance guideline.
- The University Executive, College Deans and Service Division Directors, or their nominees, are responsible for:
- sustaining a culture that resources early, active intervention to support and encourage injured/ill staff to a safe and durable return to work; and
- complying with administrative requirements of rehabilitation and compensation claims as required by the University and regulatory bodies.
- Area managers/supervisors are responsible for:
- providing workplace flexibility to accommodate suitable duties or employment to support the return to work of injured/ill staff;
- assisting the ANU rehabilitation case manager and their delegates or approved rehabilitation provider, to determine, implement and monitor suitable return to work options for staff;
- treating information relating to staff on return to work programs confidentially in line with relevant legislation; and
- maintaining non-prejudicial treatment of staff participating in return to work programs.
- The University RCM is responsible for:
- organising an initial assessment of injured/ill staff as soon as possible to identify their return to work requirements;
- determining and developing the return to work program for injured/ill staff, in conjunction with the staff member, their supervisor, and the NTD;
- acting as facilitator for injured/ill staff, supervisor, workplace rehabilitation providers and health practitioners;
- ensuring that staff (and their representatives if requested) are consulted during all stages of their return to work process;
- ensuring confidential treatment of information relating to staff on return to work programs in line with relevant legislation; and
- supporting the non-prejudicial treatment of staff participating in rehabilitation programs.
- Staff are responsible for:
- reporting any work related incident, injury or illness to their supervisor/manager as soon as possible via the workplace incident and hazard reporting tool as per the WHS incident management procedure.
- providing medical certification to their supervisor and ANU RCM of clearance for work duties or details of applicable work restrictions for the return to work;
- actively participating in the development and implementation of their rehabilitation program including the return to work program (RTWP) and any assessments recommended by the ANU RCM; and
- informing their ANU RCM and/or supervisor of their progress including any changes in their circumstances during the return to work.
- A workplace rehabilitation provider (WRP) is an external rehabilitation provider approved by Comcare who provides return to work services. WRP responsibilities are:
- providing expert, objective advice to the RCM to assist the timely, safe and durable return to work of an injured employee;
- undertaking a rehabilitation assessment to determine an employee’s capacity to undertake a rehabilitation program;
- documenting the findings of the rehabilitation assessment and where required, developing a rehabilitation program in consultation with the employee, manager, treating medical practitioner and the RCM; and
- monitoring the rehabilitation program and providing support and guidance to the injured/ill employee.
Initial referral for rehabilitation
Work related injury or illness
- Staff who have sustained a work related illness or injury, are to complete an online incident notification via the Workplace incident and hazard reporting tool as per the WHS incident management procedure.
- The RCM is the first point of contact with an injured staff member, following the submission of an online incident notification. The RCM makes telephone (or email if required) contact with the injured employee within 24 hours of notification.
- For University staff members with a minor work-related injury, reimbursement of injury costs may occur through the early intervention funding assistance program. Full details are available in the early intervention assistance guideline.
- Staff with a work related injury or illness are to submit a workers compensation claim. Full details can be found on the University injury management webpage.
Non-work related injury or illness
- Staff with a non-work related injury or illness are to contact WEG directly with a request for assistance by emailing email@example.com. A request for assistance is received from the staff member’s supervisor, or a human resource practitioner. Refer to the Management of non-work related injury and illness procedure.
- A rehabilitation assessment by a WRP is considered as a required action as part of the return to work process, to be arranged by the RCM.
- The purpose of a rehabilitation assessment conducted by a WRP, provides the RCM with an expert, impartial and informed written opinion about whether an employee is capable of undertaking, or continuing to undertake, a rehabilitation program. Where the employee is assessed as being capable, recommendations are made by the RCM on the measures that such a program includes.
- A rehabilitation program is a structured series of planned activities offered to injured staff members with the primary aim of returning them to their pre-injury employment, or as near as possible in the circumstances.
- Staff members with a reduced working capacity as certified by a medical practitioner, are required to undertake a rehabilitation program. For those staff with an accepted workers compensation claim, this will be in accordance with the SRC Act.
- The rehabilitation program is developed, reviewed and updated by the RCM or a WRP in consultation with the injured staff member, their treating doctor, the RCM and the supervisor.
- A rehabilitation program includes:
- a return to work (RTW) plan;
- an outline of the rehabilitation goals and time frames;
- the services and estimated costs of the WRP (if one has been engaged);
- responsibilities of all parties in relation to the employee’s rehabilitation; and
- mechanisms for regular review against the rehabilitation program’s goals and targets.
Return to work plan (RTWP)
- A RTWP for the injured staff member is included in the rehabilitation program and has the following elements:
- complies with the return to work hierarchy, with a return to pre-injury duties and hours being the primary goal in the majority of programs;
- is developed in consultation with the injured staff member, their treating doctor, their supervisor, the WRP Provider and the RCM;
- considers reasonable adjustment requirements;
- is individualised, outcome based and clearly sets out the steps to be followed in achieving return to work;
- recognises the existing skills, experience and capabilities of the injured staff member to enable suitable duties to be found;
- considers retraining and redeployment only when it is not possible for the injured staff member to return to pre-injury duties; and
- has a review date.
- Reasonable adjustments are required as part of the return to work process. These include:
- physical: e.g. modifying workstations or sites to improve accessibility or providing additional equipment or tools;
- technological assistance: e.g. speech recognition software;
- work arrangements: e.g. adjustments to work hours, flexibility in hours worked and assistance with managing workloads;
- adjustments to a job: e.g. modifying duties, work methods, additional training or modifying work patterns; and
- attitudes of colleagues: e.g. providing information, coaching or training on how adjustments can support staff members.
- The University has a duty to provide suitable employment to an injured or ill staff member.
- The University assists injured staff members with obtaining suitable employment by following the return to work hierarchy.
- In order to provide suitable employment and duties, the University obtains reports from relevant specialists. These reports generally include information on the injured staff member’s competency, fitness to work, training needs, availability and job prospects.
- Where an employee decides to leave the University and they have an active workers compensation claim, the University arranges a rehabilitation assessment under section 36 of the SRC Act, as part of the separation process to provide an indication of the departing staff member’s ability to earn.
Consideration for suitable duties
- Suitable duties are a short term arrangement to assist the injured or ill staff member recover and are considered a permanent employment arrangement. Suitable duties include:
- parts of the job that the injured staff member was doing before injury/illness;
- the same job, but on reduced hours; or
- different duties altogether.
- When considering suitable duties, the suitable duties;
- meet medical restrictions such that the required duties will not aggravate the injured staff member’s condition;
- are within the skills of the injured or ill staff member;
- are meaningful and comparable to the level at which the injured staff member was working prior to the date of injury or illness; and
- include any other relevant considerations.
- The injured staff member and their supervisor are consulted in in developing the return to work plan and suitable duties.
- Suitable duties do not include work that is:
- not useful for the local area and its day-to-day business; or
- demeaning to the staff member and has no employment prospects.
- A work trial arrangement is a rehabilitation strategy for facilitating the successful return to work of an employee with an injury or illness.
- Reasons for using a work trial may include:
- rebuilding work skills, self-confidence and establishing work routines following a long absence from the workforce and/or loss of work skills due to sustaining a work-related injury;
- work hardening, when an injured staff member is offered a program to improve their tolerance to physical or psychological work to allow a return to pre-injury work at their pre-injury employer, or placement with a new employer;
- learning alternative work skills when a staff member is unable to return to work within the University and needs the opportunity to build new work skills, to improve their employment potential and increase their chances of being placed with a new employer; and
- the employee has identified a new potential employer and a vacancy exists, and there is a need to create a working relationship with the potential new employer.
- A work trial placement is required in an alternate work area within the University when the home area is unable to provide suitable duties or the staff member is unable to return to their pre-injury job. When this occurs, the pre-injury work area is required to fund the injured staff member’s salary.
- RCMs within WEG will identify employees undergoing a graduated RTW plan, who benefit from participating in the nominated work trial, based on capacity for work and job fit. This is conducted in consultation with all key stakeholders, including the WRP, if one is involved.
- Criteria is established and documented [insert link to work trial form] by the RCM prior to the work trial commencing and includes:
- medical clearance from the treating medical practitioner for the period of the work trial;
- medical guidance in regards to functional capacity and work restrictions;
- a suitable return to work goal with all parties in agreement;
- monitoring arrangements, discussed with all parties and recorded; and
- work trial agreement form to be explained and signed by all parties.
- A work trial is negotiated in another agency or in alternative employment when suitable duties are not available within the University.
- Specific responsibilities of key stakeholders for a work trial arrangement are detailed to follow.
The staff member :
- adheres to the work trial to the best of their ability and complies with medical recommendations;
- advises the RCM of any inability to attend for any part of the work trial—medical certificates will be requested;
- advises the work trial supervisor and the RCM if an exacerbation of their injury occurs or a new injury is sustained during the work trial; and
- adheres to work policies and practices as expected of a staff member of the host School/Area.
The host School/Area:
- provides induction and training to the staff member appropriate to the position being undertaken;
- provides feedback to the staff member on their progress and performance;
- adheres to work health and safety (WHS) requirements as required for all staff;
- is available to discuss the work trial with the RCM;
- adheres to the agreement as outlined and signed by all parties and only modifies the agreement with prior consultation with all parties; and
- contacts the RCM in regards to any concerns regarding the staff member’s fitness for work.
The pre-injury/illness School/Area continues to pay the salary of the injured/ill staff member for the duration of the work trial following discussion and agreement.
- monitors fitness for work;
- provides support to the staff member and supervisor on the work trial and is available to discuss issues as they arise; and
- oversees the staff members return to work including overseeing the involvement of the workplace rehabilitation provider (if applicable).
The WRP (if applicable):
- negotiates and develops the work trial for the staff member;
- monitors progress and liaises with all parties and recommends modifications to the work trial agreement as necessary; and
- provides feedback to the RCM and reviews the program to ensure that the goals and objectives are being met.
- If an ANU staff member is medically certified unfit to return to their pre-injury hours and duties due to a medical condition, medical redeployment is considered, subject to the approval of the Director Human Resources (DHR).
- This process is facilitated in consultation with the relevant College or Division HR representative, the staff member’s supervisor, and other relevant stakeholders as required.
- In order for an ANU staff member to be considered for medical redeployment, the following criteria is met:
- the staff member undergoes a medical examination; and
- a copy of the medical practitioner’s report is provided to the delegate and the staff member.
- Where the medical report states that the staff member is unable to perform their duties, and is unlikely to be able to perform them and/or resume them within 12 months:
- the University will first determine whether it is possible to provide reasonable workplace adjustment before it takes any action;
- a risk assessment of redeployment options be completed; and
- if reasonable workplace adjustment is not possible, the University is to action it considers reasonable under the circumstances to address the circumstances.
Cessation of return to work services
- Return to work services are ceased when:
- a return to pre-injury duties or optimum level of functioning in the workplace has been achieved;
- specialist rehabilitation provider services are no longer required; or
- return to work goals are no longer appropriate based on medical and treatment advice.
- The RCM makes the final decision to close the return to work program in consultation with the staff member, their supervisor and the NTD, then completes any administrative requirements to detail the rehabilitation outcomes that are achieved.
- At closure, the RCM:
- reviews the case with the staff member and their supervisor to work out whether the return to work has been durable (a period of 13 weeks when the staff member has not experienced a significant exacerbation of their condition); and
- will reassess the staff member’s circumstances and potential for employment if a successful and durable return to work is not achieved. A further rehabilitation program or rehabilitation assessment is needed in the future if circumstances change related to the injury or illness.
Legal and other requirements
Safety and Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth)
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
|Printable version (PDF)|
|Title||Return to work|
|Purpose||To inform all University staff of the expectations regarding return to work management of staff members and former employees of the University who have sustained a work related injury or illness.|
|Topic/ SubTopic||Health, Safety & Environment - Occupational Health & Safety|
|Effective Date||15 Mar 2018|
|Review Date||15 Mar 2021|
|Responsible Officer||Director, Human Resources|
|Approved By:||Chief Operating Officer|
|Contact Area||Human Resources Division|
Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988
Disability Discrimination Act 1992