Supporting your worker

Understanding your worker's situation and offering support at the time of the injury and throughout the recovery process will have a positive impact on your worker's response to their injury and enable successful recovery at work

Provide a supportive and positive environment

You or your worker’s manager can provide a supportive and positive environment in the following ways.

  • Discourage blame

    Workers compensation is a ‘no-fault’ system in NSW. Actively exploring ways to prevent future injuries and focusing on helping the worker to recover will assist in building cohesive relationships.

  • Keep in touch with your worker

    Stay informed and inquire after your worker by regularly phoning or visiting. Find out the estimated recovery time and provide updates and news of the office or work site. Invite your worker to meetings, morning teas or social events. Reassure your worker that they are missed and the team is keen for their return.

  • Ask appropriate co-workers to stay in touch

    Encourage your worker’s colleagues to phone, email, visit or text. If they are reluctant because they feel they don’t know what to say to the worker, reassure them that positive and considerate contact helps the worker recover. A quick chat about some general news from the workplace or other topics of interest sends a positive message to the worker.

  • Address and resolve any outstanding issues

    A worker’s recovery can be influenced by other issues within the workplace (such as conflict with a co-worker) or at home (such as transport difficulties). These can be barriers to returning to or recovering at work. Information about cultural, psychological and social risk factors that may affect recovery and return to work outcomes are available on page 9 or go to: workcover.nsw.gov.au/factorweb

  • Advise your worker of their obligations

    Let your worker know early on what you will do to assist in their recovery at work. Consider discussing reasonable expectations around the level of their involvement and cooperation throughout the recover at work and injury management process. See Other people involved on page 8 for the worker’s obligations.

Early contact with the doctor

A worker who is away for more than seven consecutive days as a result of a workplace injury or illness, must choose their preferred doctor (also referred to as the nominated treating doctor). Even if you have a preferred doctor or a medical practice located nearby, encourage your worker to make their own decision about where they wish to receive their treatment. Most workers choose their family doctor.

Early contact with the doctor demonstrates your commitment to the recovery of your worker and provides you with an opportunity to discuss your worker’s normal duties and the availability of other duties.

If you are unable to speak immediately with the doctor, ask the receptionist for the best way and time to do this. Leave your details and make sure you are easily contactable. Consider sending an email or fax to the doctor with information about the nature of your business, availability of duties and your contact details.

NSW workers compensation certificate of capacity

The certificate of capacity is the primary communication tool of the doctor. It is a standard form that a doctor must complete and replaces the former medical certificate.

Using the recommendations contained in the certificate will help your worker recover at work sooner. You are entitled to ask questions of the doctor and clarify the information in the certificate.

Questions you may ask include:

  • what can the worker do?
  • how long do you expect the worker to take to return to their normal duties?
  • can the worker drive or use public transport?
  • what can I do to help the worker recover at work?
  • how can I best communicate with you about the worker’s progress?

Seeking your worker’s permission

When signing the certificate of capacity your worker authorises the doctor to provide relevant information about their injury or illness to you and the insurer.

If you want to contact the doctor before receiving your copy of the certificate (i.e. during the worker’s first consultation) to show your support and discuss suitable work, you will need permission from your worker first.

Arranging a case conference

Arranging a case conference

Case conferences can occur at any time throughout the claim. They are separate to your worker’s scheduled medical review. A case conference is a meeting that can include your worker, the nominated treating doctor, the insurer, approved workplace rehabilitation provider (where applicable) and yourself to set goals, ensure roles and responsibilities are understood and agree on timeframes to recover at work or return to work. Meeting with your worker and their doctor can assist in the overall management of your worker’s injury. Encourage your worker to participate in case conferences.

Other people involved

Safe and timely recovery at work or return to work is a team effort involving open, regular and caring communication. As the employer, you are a member of the worker’s support team, and you have an important role to play. The support team also includes your worker, your insurer, the doctor, and an approved workplace rehabilitation provider.

Your worker’s role

Your worker’s primary role is to focus on recovery and aim to stay at work in some capacity, or return to work as soon as possible. Your worker must find a doctor to act as their nominated treating doctor. This is often the worker’s usual general practitioner.

The insurer’s role

The insurer appoints a case manager who coordinates all aspects of the worker’s claim and is the primary contact for the support team. The insurer’s goal is to ensure your worker can return to their usual work in a timely manner with minimal disruption to your business.

The doctor’s role

Along with the usual role of assessing, diagnosing, treating and certifying patients – in the workers compensation system, the doctor supports the worker to return to work and where possible, recover at work, through appropriate clinical intervention and management.

The workplace rehabilitation provider’s role

The approved workplace rehabilitation provider can help you and your worker resolve problems associated with the recover at work or return to work process.

Approved workplace rehabilitation providers are health professionals like occupational therapists, physiotherapists, rehabilitation counsellors and psychologists who have expertise in addressing the physical, functional, psychological and/or workplace barriers that may affect a worker recovering at work or returning to work.

Your role

You are required to provide suitable employment (where reasonably practicable) to support your worker’s recovery at work or return to work.

The greater your ability to accommodate your worker, the less likely the worker will need time away from the workplace.

You may also consider:

  • providing your worker with information about workers compensation and recover at work/return to work procedures
  • collaborating with your worker to identify suitable work options
  • providing information to the support team about the workplace, the worker’s usual job and available short term suitable work options
  • developing a recover at work/return to work plan that describes how you will support your worker
  • building a strong relationship with your insurer who can provide assistance throughout your worker’s recovery
  • showing your commitment to your worker’s recovery by:
    • making regular contact with the insurer and requesting involvement in meetings about your worker’s progress
    • providing relevant information to help your insurer make fair and timely decisions, eg providing pre-injury average weekly earnings details.

If you have a Return to Work Coordinator, they will assist you with these responsibilities.