Returning to work
Benefits of returning to work
Returning to work is an important part of an injured person's recovery and rehabilitation. There is significant evidence that in general:
- work is good for health and wellbeing
- long-term work absence, work disability and unemployment have a negative impact on health and wellbeing
- work can reduce the social and financial impact on an injured person’s life and wellbeing, and increase the likelihood of a timely recovery
- there is value in returning to, or staying at, work as part of a person's rehabilitation and not just as the end point of rehabilitation
Applying your understanding of the health benefits of safe work can help a TAC client stay at or return to work as soon as it is safe to do so.
As a healthcare provider, you can help the client set their goals for returning to work. These goals may include increasing physical activity, changing hours or duties at work or attending team meetings or work functions. The client can also build their capacity through activities outside of work, such as increasing household duties or scheduling more activities in the day.
If there are barriers to returning to work, treatment is clinically justified when it promotes independence, improves function and participation or demonstrably prevents the person from significantly deteriorating from their current level of function.
Completing a Certificate of Capacity
The TAC Certificate of Capacity is a key communication tool in the return to work process. We may ask you to complete this form if you are the primary practitioner responsible for treating a client’s injuries and you belong to one of these professions:
- general practitioner
- medical professional
- occupational therapist
The Certificate of Capacity provides information about the client’s transport injuries to assess and certify their capacity for work. It also helps us assess the client’s income benefits and support needs.
Return to work program
When a client requires additional support to return to work, a TAC claims manager may initiate a return to work program. This could involve an assessment of the workplace to determine whether the client has any special needs for equipment or workplace modifications. The claims manager will coordinate the program with you and the client to ensure a safe return to work.
If the client is unable to return to their pre-accident employment because of their accident injuries, or if their job is no longer available, we can refer the client to a vocational rehabilitation services provider to explore other work options. These providers have specific skills and experience in helping people return to work following an injury. They must be approved by the TAC to provide services, but operate independently. Services may vary depending on the TAC client's capacity for work and individual circumstances, but generally these providers will:
- engage with the various parties to reach a common understanding of return to work goals
- provide recommendations and strategies to overcome identified barriers to returning to work
- suggest changes to the workplace to help the injured person transition back to work
- help the injured person gain skills in other areas of work where needed
The client’s employer also plays a key role in a person’s return to work, whether the client is starting new employment or returning to their pre-injury employment. The employer can offer the client alternative duties or reduced hours. If so, we can offer subsidies to compensate the employer financially while the injured person returns to full productivity.
Supported Employment Service
For people with a disability, you can recommend the Supported Employment Service. This can help them enter or re-enter the workforce, develop job skills and prepare to work in the open employment market. The service connects eligible TAC clients with an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE). These organisations employ people with a disability in a supported work environment in roles such as gardeners, store people, recyclers, screen printers, cooks, caterers or hospitality. The TAC funds the workplace support, while the ADE (as the employer) pays the person's wages.
To learn how people can connect with an ADE, access the Supported Employment Service Guidelines.
For more information on helping an injured person return to work, access the following information on our website:
- our Returning to work policy for TAC clients
- our GP participation in return to work activities page
- Brochure for patients on the benefits of returning to work
- Talking about a return to work – conversation starters
- Information for General Practitioners from Networking Health Victoria on facilitating an early, safe and sustainable return to work
You can also access the following resources:
- the Australian Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work, which highlights evidence of the health benefits of safe work
- the Health Benefits of Good Work initiative
- training from the Personal Injury Education Foundation to help healthcare professionals, specifically physiotherapists, learn more about their role in helping an injured person return to work
- Webinars from RACGP Victoria, including 'Doctor, I'm being bullied at work' and 'RACGP & TAC-WorkSafe joint webinar'