Return to Work Plan

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Published 03/04/2022

7 Best Return to Work Plan Features for 2022



What is a Return to Work Plan and why is it important?

A return to work plan is a critical part of the injury management process outlining the program and structure to follow for how an injured employee can return to their work duties. This will involve their treating doctors advice, establishing their capacity to return to work (partial or total capacity). It involves a return to work interview, completing return to work forms, follow ups, appointments, capacity checks, adjustments to the return to work plan and the goal of supporting the employee. It can involve completing a questionnaire, self assessment, a risk assessment, managing rehab and appointments and managing medical certificates.

This will form part of your overal Injury Management System. Here we talk through a guide on the 7 best return to work plan features to include for 2022.

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1: Return to Work Form

Here we go over the common structure and form fields for a return to work form and what to commonly include:

Workers Details:
- Claim number
- Contact details (name, address, email, department, role etc)

Employers Details
- ABN, Supervisor Contact details)
Insurer Details
- Name of Insurer
- Policy Number
- Contact details

Medical Details
- Name of treatng medical practitioner
- Contact details
- Date reviewed and date of appointment

Details of any Work restrictions
This would describe restricted job role duties

Details of any capacity to work limits

Actions to be completed to enable the employee to return to work
Listing specific tasks to be completed in order for them to return to work

Responsible person and when to be completed by
What manager is overseeing this

2: Managing Medical Certificates

A common part of the return to work plan is the management of medical certificates. Different stages require different levels of medical certificate (i.e. commonly a final certificate to close the claim). How these are collected, provided by the employee, stored and managed is a critical element of a return to work plan and its important to establish a proper process around this and the technical means for the employee to upload these medical certificates to you.

- Tools to upload and provide medical certificates
- Reminders on next date due
- Managing and storage of certificates

3: Appointments

There are a lot of different appointments to manage as part of a return to work plan ranging from medical appointments, rehabilitation appointments, meetings with your supervisor or line manager, meetings with a Workers Comp manager and wellbeing checks and feedback. This can be a minefield to navigate and its important to establish a proper structure and plan around this to automate the booking, rescheduling and reminders for all types of return to work plan appointments in order to ensure the appointments happen in the first place, are meaningful and on schedule.

4: Interviews

Feedback is a large part of a return to workplace. Interviews between the employee and the supervisor or workers comp manager help construct a return to work plan and establish what is agreed to and what the plan should be.

The goal is to determine the most suitable return to work plan for the employee and might consist of these discovery areas:

- are there any work related stress which may have contributed to prolonged absence and examine mental wellness

- develop a recovery strategy

- planning for the safe return of the employee to the workplace in advance of them actually returning to work

- any personal or work-related concerns that might affect their attendance

- discuss any reasonable adjustments that are required to their role or the location they work in / work station environment

- establish what help the employee is currently receiving and what further help they might require

5: Rehab Management

Part of the plan might involve managing rehab and treatments required for the employee such as physiotherapy or chiropractor appointments, how often they need to go, when, which provider, understanding the recovery time frames and supporting the employee through these treatments. As part of a system to manage these you might capture:

- Provider name, type, services provided and contact details
- Copies of bills
- Dates attended
- Treatment notes and recommendations
- Expected recovery timeframes
- How this impacts their work duties and what advice you need to follow when assigning work duties
- Liaising with your Workers Comp insurer on these areas

6: Link to an Incident Report

The workers comp claim is just one part of a wider investigation into what happened, why it happened and why it won't happen again which stems from an incident report on what actually occurred, the details that led to the injury in the first place, witness reports and corrective actions and a hazard report to help investigate and hopefully prevent the same type of incident from happening again.

7: Return to Work Risk Assessment

It's important to recognize and control the risks that led to the workplace injury in the first place in order to ensure it doesn't happen to someone else and they end up on a return to work plan too!

This will involve carrying out a risk assessment and also bringing awareness to employees around potential risks that may happen while they are executing their duties. This will help employees be aware of the risks so that they will be more careful when handling plant, equipment and machines. This might also involve introducing new training programs for employees.

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