Policy and procedures for supporting staff return to work

How to develop a return to work process and share with your workers.



How this helps your business

When you play an active role in helping injured employees return to work:

  • your employees (who are vital to your business' success) may recover faster after injury
  • you keep the skills and knowledge of your injured employees
  • you reduce the costs of lost productivity
  • you save the costs of recruiting and training new staff to cover the role
  • you help build morale in the workplace by showing all employees that the injured worker is valued

Even if you have never had an injury at your workplace, you still have obligations to be prepared.

Step 1: Draft or review your policy

You need to discuss with your employees about what you will do to assist them return to work if they have an injury. This template will help you give your employees the information they need. Once you have discussed return to work with your employees, complete the details on the form and display or share the form so all your employees know what to expect if they are injured. An employer who uses this template in full will be taken to have complied with their legal obligation to make this information available to workers.

Step 2: Write a job description

You need to identify who in your workplace can be your Return to Work Coordinator. This person needs to have the knowledge, skills and experience to help your organisation meet your return to work obligations.

Smaller businesses only need to have a Return to Work Coordinator while you have an injured employee. Larger businesses need to have a permanent Return to Work Coordinator. The size of your business is based on your annual wages and benefits you pay to employees, so if you think you might qualify as a larger business, discuss with your insurance agent or WorkSafe Advisory about whether your workplace should have a permanent Return to Work Coordinator.

The fact sheet below tells you what skills, training and responsibilities a Return to Work Coordinator should have.

Step 3: Update your resources and processes

This return to work checklist is a good prompt if you do have an injured employee. It will make it easier to manage the return to work process. Print it off or save it somewhere handy so it's ready when you need it.

5 key tasks to help an injured employee return to work:

  1. Get relevant information about your employee's ability to work from their treating health professionals.
  2. Consider reasonable workplace support, aids or modifications that would make it possible for your employee to return to work.
  3. Look at options for suitable work. This work could the same or different to what your employee did before their injury. Where possible, show this work option to your employee.
  4. Give your employee clear, accurate and up-to-date details about their return to work arrangements.
  5. Monitor your employee's progress.

Step 4: Talk with your staff

Returning to work is a team effort involving the injured employee, their treating health practitioner, the employer and co-workers in the workplace, and the WorkSafe Agent. It is important to talk positively about return to work so that everyone in the workplace knows they will be supported if they are ill or injured.

This fact sheet will help communicate the benefits of returning to work to your employees. You can use this template and customise it to suit your workplace and needs.

Make sure you also display 'If you are injured' posters in your workplace. Use the version of the poster that lists your insurance agent's contact details

Step 5: Share with staff

These videos are Victorian workplaces who were finalists in the 2017 WorkSafe awards. They give great insight into why return to work programs are so important, for both injured employees and their employers.

WorkSafe Award Winner - Lindsey Doolin - Return to Work Coordinator Excellence Award

Engaging with staff about return to work case study – Specialty Fashion Group

More resources

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Disclaimer: The WorkWell Toolkit provides general information only. Please consider your specific circumstances, needs and seek appropriate professional advice.