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Returning to work after an injury

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What to expect after an injury at work

After an injury at work, you may require time off to recover. During this time, the workers’ compensation insurer can pay you loss of earnings benefits to compensate you for your lost wages.

The amount of weekly payment you receive depends on your capacity to work in your role, or any other role, at the time of your injury. If you have a partial capacity to work, your weekly payments will be reduced in line with this.

Returning to work after an injury can be a daunting process. You may be anxious to return to work but your doctor will not yet certify you fit for work. Alternatively, you may feel like you are being pushed back to work by your doctors, the workers’ compensation insurer or your employer before you are ready. Both of these situations can be distressing. 

Workers Compensation Scheme

The aim of the workers’ compensation scheme is to support workers during recovery from an injury and to assist them in getting back to work, where appropriate.

Sometimes, sadly, due to the extent of a person’s injuries, this is not possible, but, where it is possible, the workers’ compensation insurer and your employer must provide you with suitable rehabilitation services and assistance in returning to work.

Equally, you have an obligation to make reasonable efforts to return to work and to co-operate with reasonable return to work programs. If you are able to do some work, even if it is not your previous duties, your employer has a legal obligation to provide you with suitable alternative duties.

Working with your medical practitioner

It is important that you communicate with your medical practitioners and your employer so that you feel part of the return to work process. If your doctor is unwilling to certify you as fit to return to work even though you feel ready, it is important to discuss this with your doctor and ask them to explain their reasoning. Returning to work before you are medically ready can delay your recovery.

If you feel that you are being pushed back to work before you are ready, it is also very important to discuss your concerns with your doctor and, if appropriate, your employer.

Sometimes, a doctor may be of the view that a worker will never be able return to their previous job or to any type of work at all. This is very difficult news to hear. It is important to discuss your prognosis with your doctor so that you understand the consequences of your injury and do not have false expectations about your future.

If you do receive bad news from your medical practitioner, it is important to get support. Counselling services may be appropriate. You can also seek a second opinion.

Do not resign or accept a redundancy 

If a dispute arises about your employment or return to work after a work-related injury, do not resign your employment or accept a redundancy before seeking legal advice as this may significantly impact the workers’ compensation you can claim.

If your employment is terminated as a consequence of an injury at work, you may be entitled to make an unfair dismissal claim. If your employer terminates your employment, you should contact Slater and Gordon immediately as very short time limits apply to challenge the termination.

Return to Work Case Conference

The workers’ compensation insurer can request that you and your GP participate in a GP Return to Work Case Conference. This involves a 30 minute appointment with your GP which will also be attended by an agent from the workers’ compensation insurer and, with your consent, your employer, the aim of which is to develop a plan for your return to work. A conference cannot take place without your consent and there is no obligation on you to consent.

We can help

If you have any questions or require further information, contact us today.