Getting back to work after an injury can be good for your health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally.
The earlier you start planning to return to work, the better your chances are of returning to normal life.
Depending on the severity of your injury, there are multiple people who will support you return to work.
Occupational rehabilitation provider
Don't let the name fool you – the occupational rehabilitation provider is not another physio or doctor. They are a return to work expert specifically assigned to help you manage the challenging moments of returning to work.
They generally have a background in allied health (such as physiotherapy) but they are not there to treat you. The occupational rehabilitation provider will help you manage tough situations like conversations with your employer, meetings with health professionals, or completing complex documentation.
Your friends and family
Your personal network is a fantastic source of support. Talk to your friends and family and ask them to help you with your return to work journey.
Returning to work is beneficial for you and your employer. Research suggests returning to work quickly leads to a faster recovery. It also means your employer doesn't lose a valuable employee or the costs of having someone off work from an injury.
Talk to your employer and discuss your wish to return to work. Your employer can be your number one support in your return to work journey.
Collaboration is the key
No one knows how you're feeling better than you do, so it's important to communicate with your employer and treating health practitioners.
Cooperating with everyone involved in the return to work process is also part of your legal obligations as an employee.
Your return to work obligations as an employee
Make reasonable efforts to return to work in suitable or pre-injury employment.
Make reasonable efforts to actively participate and cooperate in planning for your return to work.
Actively use an occupational rehabilitation service if provided, and cooperate with the provider of that service.
Actively participate and cooperate in assessments of your capacity for work, rehabilitation progress or future employment prospects.
Actively participate and cooperate with the WorkSafe agent in an interview to enhance your opportunities to return to work.
Who is involved in the return to work process
To help you return to safe work, it's important to know all the different people involved in the process and what their roles are. Communication amongst everyone involved is a crucial to getting back to work and normal life.
Your role as an employee
You have an important role to play in your recovery. No one knows how you're feeling better than you do, so it's important that you communicate that to your employer and treating health practitioner(s).
It will help your recovery and return to safe work if you're able to stay positive; ask for help from others when you need it; and concentrate on what you can do, not just what you can't do both at home and at work. Knowing what you can do will also help your employer and your treating health practitioner(s) to find things you can safely do back at work.
The longer you're away from work the harder it is to return, and the worse it is for your health and wellbeing, so actively participating in your return to safe work is the best thing you can do.
If you are injured at work, your employer has an important role to play in assisting in your recovery and safe return to work. Your employer needs to provide you with suitable and/or pre-injury employment (where possible) and consult with you.
You can be assisted during this consultation by a support person or representative, your treating health practitioner (with your consent) and the occupational rehabilitation provider (if required). To help your employer to help you, it's important to stay in touch with them if you are away from work and keep them informed of your progress, treatment and any relevant issues/concerns/problems as they arise.