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What you need to know about workers compensation and rehabilitation


Keeping workers safe is the top priority for any decent business, and workers compensation knowledge is crucial for everyone. Losing staff to injury can have a serious impact on operations and morale. All businesses need to have a plan in place to prevent accidents in the first place, and to get injured staff the support they need to recover from injury and return to work as soon as possible.  

Every year around 135,000 workers compensation claims are made in Australia for serious injuries which lead to a week or more off work, permanent incapacity and, in 0.1 per cent of cases, death, according to Safe Work Australia.

The Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act was originally enacted in 1988. It is designed to set a base standard to ensure injured workers get the healthcare and support they need to get back to work.

For employers, workers comp claims might seem onerous, but so long as you know your rights and responsibilities it’s possible to set up procedures that will help to ensure your employees get what they need, and you don’t end up paying out for bogus claims. The following is true of the most recent update of the regulations, but to be safe you should regularly refer back to Safe Work Australia for the latest information.

How it works

If someone is seriously injured at work, employers have 14 days to provide them with a ‘right to claim’ notice so they can go to an accredited doctor and have their right to claim medically assessed. Once they’ve lodged the claim, employers had three working days to notify their insurer in order to pass on all the medial expenses associated with the accident.

Your responsibilities

According to Safe Work Australia, the vast majority of workers compensation claims are for temporary injuries, in which case the employer is required to keep the role open over a period of 12 months, and to offer some kind of return to work strategy if the injury makes it impossible for the employee to return to their original role. This can be challenging, especially in smaller companies where there is not as much diversity when it comes to roles.

For laws specific to your state or territory, it’s best to check with your local regulator. Links are available on the Safe Work Australia homepage.

Communication is the key

Getting injured staff back to work is largely about keeping the lines of communication open, being aware of what their capabilities are, and offering return-to-work training where necessary. It is important to check that your workers compensation insurance covers the cost of such programs, and to keep in regular contact with employees who are off work for extended periods as the result of an accident.

The focus of the workers compensation and rehabilitation legislation is on getting staff back to work, this means knowing both your rights and responsibilities as an employer, and staying in touch with injured employees so they can be reintegrated into the workforce as soon as they are able to return.   

Find a local Resilium Adviser to discuss your options for worker’s compensation insurance.

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