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Directors could face fines if they don’t have a documented return to work program

Since we last published this article the NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) has begun random Audits of NSW Business’ to ensure they have a “Documented” Return to work program in place. If they are found to be negligent in producing this they could be facing fines of up to $11,000.

Return to work program – what is it?

Even with the best safety programs in place, workplace accidents can still happen. When they do, it’s tough – both for the injured worker and for the business.

Returning to work after an injury is an important step in any worker’s recovery process and an effective return to work program can go a long way to helping in that process.

All employers must have a return to work program. So what is it?

Put simply, it’s a plan your business puts in place setting out how you’re going to help injured workers with their recovery and integrate them back into the workplace. It outlines your commitment to assisting injured workers to remain at work or return to work safely as soon as possible.

Benefits of a return to work program

Having a well-run return to work program in place undoubtedly benefits your business:

  • Improve retention. You’ll be able to retain experienced workers by showing them a pathway to return to work as soon as they’re physically able to after an injury.
  • Enhance employee relations. A return to work program demonstrates your commitment to your workers’ welfare.
  • Increase productivity. Even if an injured worker returns on a part-time basis, they are more productive than if they remain at home for a longer period of time.
  • Reduce costs. By returning an injured worker to the workplace, your costs of hiring and training a replacement will be less.

But the advantages are not just for you as an employer. A return to work program also significantly benefits your workers:

  • Better morale. Injured workers who remain at home can feel socially isolated. By returning to work sooner, they’re able to retain their social connections.
  • Sense of purpose. Spending an extended period of time at home can leave some workers dispirited. Returning to work, even part time, can help them retain a sense of purpose through daily routine.
  • Skill retention. Remaining idle throughout recovery may lead to a deterioration of skills. Returning to work can ensure a worker retains their skills.

Developing a return to work program

The type of return to work program you must have in place depends on the type of employer you are – Category 1 or Category 2.

As a Category 1 employer,1. your return to work program must be developed in accordance with the Guidelines for workplace return to work programs. If you’re not a Category 1 employer, you’ll fall into Category 2 and can adopt the standard return to work program prepared by SafeWork NSW.

Importantly, if you’re a Category 1 employer you must appoint a return to work coordinator to carry out the day-to-day duties associated with the return to work program. Their role is to identify the needs of injured workers, understand any constraints on the employer, and facilitate teamwork between the worker, employer, insurer and treating health professionals to develop and implement a return to work program.

There’s no doubt it can be a time consuming role – and it’s definitely one that requires specialist knowledge and training.

Sound a bit complicated?

Not to worry. Emjay Insurance Brokers can help. We can work with you to create an effective return to work program and help you manage it before, during and after any incidents to achieve the best possible outcomes for both your business and your workers. We can even take on the role as your return to work coordinator.

If one of your workers is injured on the job, it’s not enough to adopt a ‘fingers crossed’ attitude. Letting a claim just run its course isn’t in the best interests of your workers or your business. In fact, it can end up costing you money. The process needs to be closely managed every step of the way, from start to finish – and Emjay Insurance Brokers will take a proactive approach to minimising the costs of workplace injuries to your business and get your workers back to work in a timely manner.

Emjay Insurance Brokers offers specialist workers’ compensation advice and solutions to businesses of all sizes. We have expertise in both premiums and claims, and deliver comprehensive and integrated workers’ compensation services to clients with a focus on effective risk management and real cost savings. Contact us today to discuss your needs on (02) 9796 0400.

  1. To be classified as a Category 1 employer, your business must meet one of the following criteria:
  • You’re an employer with a basic tariff premium over $50,000 per year;
  • You’re a self-insured employer; or
  • You have more than 20 employees and are insured by specialised insurer.

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