Most workplace injuries involve medical treatment and rehabilitation programs that are provided to the injured worker over many months and sometimes years. In each workers’ compensation claim it is hoped that the injured worker responds positively to their treatment and over time, regains the ability to work. Once an injured worker regains some capacity for work, they must participate in a rehabilitation return to work program, that usually involves starting with an appropriate and suitable part time work trial gradually building up hours in either the pre-accident job or an alternative lighter job. All rehabilitation work trials must be approved by the worker’s GP. Importantly, it is not a matter for the employer or insurer to determine when or how a worker can or should go back to work. This is a medical decision which is made usually by the worker’s GP or treating specialist.
Over the years, Separovic Injury Lawyers have seen return to work programs become a major source of conflict between injured workers, the employer and their insurers. These conflicts often arise where the worker is pressured to return to work before they are physically or mentally ready to do so. Often in these cases, the injured worker may still be suffering from pain or discomfort caused by the work injury. Alternatively, the employee could be in a situation where the work trial is aggravating their injury, but they think they are legally obliged to push on, based on what they are being told by the insurer, employer or rehabilitation provider.
Generally, the employer or their insurer is keen to have the worker return to work as soon as possible after the accident and thereby be in a position to stop paying weekly payments of compensation as soon as possible.