Date last updated

Thursday 24 Oct 2019

Talking about the health benefits of safe work - A guide for GP's

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Returning to work begins with a Certificate of Capacity

The Certificate of Capacity is a key communication tool in the return to work process.

The certificate indicates when an injured worker will be able to return to work. This may be for the return to ‘pre-injury’ levels of employment, suitable employment, or may even recommend no capacity for employment at all.

Providing complete and accurate information on the Certificate of Capacity, such as your patient’s sitting/standing tolerances and driving ability, will ensure everyone involved in the return to work process understands and knows how to support your patient's requirements.

Why is the Certificate of Capacity required?

  • To document capacity and communicate with the employer and agent about what your patient can do.
  • To enable your patient to access income payments.

How do I complete it?

  • Talk to your patient about the health benefits of working and how they can safely stay at or return to work.
  • Diagnosis should identify injury and include bodily location.
  • Complete the certificate based on what your patient can do.
  • Provide a timeline for recovery and return to work.

The Certificate of Capacity is crucial to starting a fast and successful return to work journey.

When a worker is injured they notify the employer and consult with a doctor. The employer lodges claim.  28 days: Insurance agent has up to 28 days to decide acceptance. Majority of claims are accepted in 10 days. 13 weeks: 25% chance of being off work in 2 years.  Patients usually receive 95% of pre-injury wage to 13 weeks and 80% after 6 Months: 44% chance of being off work in 2 years 12 Months: Employer no longer obligated to provide employment 2.5 Years: Income support for most cases stops

When a worker is injured he/she notifies the employer and consults with a doctor (Certificate of Capacity). A claim is then lodged by the employer.
The claim has the following timeline:

  • 28 days: Insurance agent has up to 28 days to make decision about acceptance (note: usual patient billing practices apply - private/bulk billing - prior to claim acceptance).The majority of claims are accepted in 10 days.
  • 13 weeks: 25% chance of being off work in 2 years if not back in 13 weeks. Patients usually receive 95% of pre-injury wage to 13 weeks and thereafter 80%
  • 6 Months: 44% chance of still being off work at 2 years if not back by 6 months
  • 12 Months: Employer no longer obligated to provide employment
  • 2.5 Years: Income support for most cases stops

The information you provide on the certificate of capacity helps employers to plan and identify safe return to work options for your patient. Certification should always reflect and be consistent with the capacity assessment.

Talking leads to working

Evidence suggests that when a health professional contacts their patient's workplace to discuss return to work, their patient is twice as likely to return to safe work as soon as they have some capacity to do so.

Keep everyone talking

The best way to support your patient to stay at or return to work is to keep everyone talking – the patient, the employer, the occupational rehabilitation (OR) provider and the WorkSafe agent.

There are a number of ways you can do this.

1. Consultations

Use this time to talk to your patient about how they can safely stay at or return to work, set recovery and treatment expectations, and encourage them to think positively about their recovery and return to work.

To help during consultations, you can refer to this list of conversation starters about how to return to work.

2. Case conferences

Bring all parties together to discuss the patient’s situation face to face, by phone or video call.

It must include the patient, the WorkSafe agent and occupational rehabilitation/vocational provider. Your patient's employer and/or support person may also participate in the case conference.

3. Phone calls

Call the patient's employer to discuss the options for your patient to get back to or stay at work.

3. Worksite visit

Visit your patient’s workplace for discussions and also to develop a better understanding of any issues that they may face.

The GP participation fact sheet has more information about these actions and how to invoice for your participation.

Getting the right treatment

WorkSafe can pay the reasonable costs of medical and allied health services that are:

  • to treat a work-related injury or illness for which a claim has been made and accepted
  • payable under the legislation including approved by WorkSafe where required
  • necessary and appropriate for the worker's injury or illness
  • delivered by a service provider registered with WorkSafe and, where appropriate, registered under the Health Professions Registration Act 2005 or approved by WorkSafe.

Some treatment and services may need prior approval from the insurance agent before commencement.

Health providers play an important role

As a health provider, you play an important role throughout all stages of helping an injured worker to recover, return to and stay at work.

Patients are more than three times as likely to return to work after an injury if their GP or medical professional gives them a date to return to work.

The longer someone is off work, the less likely they are to ever return.