Workers’ Compensation - Rehabilitation Policy and Procedure
Scope of Policy
The scope of this policy relates only to employees of The South Australian Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia on behalf of the Church (“Synod of SA”) and therefore does not apply to:
- Employees of Uniting Church SA congregations.
- Those in specified Ministries not covered by Workers Compensation Legislation
- Volunteers for any Synod of SA activities
For those excluded from this policy separate and specific rehabilitation procedures apply.
As an expression of Synod of SA’s commitment to its employees, a Rehabilitation and Return to Work Coordinator (RRTWC) has been allocated the duty of overseeing rehabilitation services and return to work plans/programs occurring within Synod of SA. Synod of SA has appointed Karen Granger (HRM Adviser) as its RRTWC.
The roles and responsibilities of those involved in various aspects of the rehabilitation process are outlined in Appendix 1 of this policy.
Synod of SA is committed to preventing work-related illness and injuries at the workplace by providing, as far as practicable, a safe and healthy working environment for all employees, volunteers and visitors.
Should an employee be injured in the workplace, the aim of the rehabilitation process is to minimise the suffering and cost incurred to an injured employee and to facilitate a safe and prompt return to work, by encouraging employees injured during the course of their employment to actively participate in a return to work plan/program.
Should an employee be injured whilst working for Synod of SA Executive Officers and management will be committed to assisting the injured employee to return to work within their physical or mental capacities. Synod of SA’s focus will be to endeavour to return the employee to their pre-injury duties, unless otherwise indicated by medical opinion, or by offering alternative duties that will assist in the earliest possible return to work and support the identified end goal of the return to work plan/program.
Synod of SA will ensure the injured employee is aware of their rights and responsibilities under the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986 during the rehabilitation process and consult with the injured employee to ensure that the return to work process operates as smoothly as possible.
A ‘return to work plan/program’ consistent with medical advice will be prepared and followed, and the employee will be given a written return to work plan/program. The Claims Agent and the Synod of SA RRTWC will assist in this process by providing the necessary link between the treating medical practitioner, Claims Agent, Rehabilitation Provider and the workplace.
Synod of SA recognises that each employee has the right to:
- choose their treating medical experts;
- be meaningfully involved in all actions relating to their rehabilitation strategy;
- a current copy of their return to work plan/program;
- access an appropriate rehabilitation service (in-house and/or external Rehabilitation Provider);
- invite a support person to attend any meeting that involves the employee’s rehabilitation. This support person may, for example, be a family member, union official, medical expert, shop steward or occupational health and OHS&W Site Group Member;
- seek independent advice before signing any documentation;
- have personal information in relation to their rehabilitation kept confidential, by all the parties involved. This information will not be disclosed without the employee’s written permission. “Personal information” is defined as “information relating to details of medical conditions and treatments”, or “information concerning family, financial or emotional matters”, but does not include a person’s capacity for work;
- access to medical or vocational information that pertains to their return to work plan/program and is in the employer’s possession;
- a return to work plan/program that takes proper account of individual needs;
and cannot be:
- dismissed from employment due to being on a return to work plan/program. However, a breach of Synod of SA’s Workers’ Compensation - Rehabilitation Policy, or serious and wilful misconduct by the employee, may result in disciplinary action. (Note: The normal obligations of the employer/employee relationship continue throughout the return to work plan/program); and
- required to carry out duties that are in conflict with the agreed medical constraints.
Synod of SA is committed to the rehabilitation and return to work of employees who have been injured at work and have appointed and trained a RRTWC to assist in:
- maintaining contact with the injured employee and encouraging his or her return to work;
- supporting and maintaining regular communication with the appointed Case Manager and treating practitioner regarding the return to work options of the injured employee; and
- working with the Case Manager, treating practitioner, other health providers and the injured employee to achieve optimum work capacity.
Synod of SA has appointed a RRTWC to assist with management of the rehabilitation process of any injured employee.
In the event of a workplace injury, the following procedures will be followed:
- Synod of SA will ensure that the injured employee receives appropriate first aid and/or medical treatment as soon as possible;
- the incident must be reported to the manager/supervisor and the RRTWC as soon as possible, preferably within twenty-four (24) hours;
- Synod of SA must ensure that contact is made with the Claims Agent or the WorkCover Corporation to advise of the injury; and
- the incident is recorded in the incident register noting the corrective action taken.
Synod of SA will also ensure that the injured employee:
- returns to work as quickly and safely as possible;
- once the work capacity of the injured employee has been established with the treating practitioner, actively participate in developing a return to work plan/program for themselves by working with the Case Manager; and
- is provided with suitable employment, for which the employee has capacity, that is meaningful, productive and suitable for the injured employee’s physical and psychological capacity.
Synod of SA defines suitable employment as being dependant on the injured employee’s capacity and may be:
- at the same workplace or a different workplace;
- the same job with different hours or modified duties;
- a different job; or
- full-time or part-time.
- lodges all subsequent designated medical certificates in person (where injuries permit) to the RRTWC. The RRTWC will record the information and forward the certificate to the Claims Agent within forty-eight (48) hours, if possible, but in any case, no later than five (5) days.
Additionally, managers/supervisors must:
- in conjunction with the Rehabilitation Provider and the RRTWC identify alternative duties that fall within the medical guidelines for each injured employee;
- support and reassure the injured employee during their return to work;
- monitor the injured employee to ensure compliance with the return to work plan/program and any restrictions that may be placed on the employee;
- create a supportive, nurturing environment for the injured employee, in order to assist a speedy return to normal duties; and
- keep the injured employee in employment, wherever possible. If this cannot be achieved, Synod of SA may need to address the possibility of terminating the employee’s employment contract, allowing twenty-eight (28) days’ notice of the intention to do so to the injured employee and the Claims Agent.
Synod of SA employees:
- are expected to actively support the rehabilitation of any injured colleague in order to ensure a speedy return to work.
Injured employees must:
- report the injury/incident to their manager/supervisor as soon as practicable after the occurrence of the incident;
- undertake appropriate treatment to facilitate a safe return to work, including attendance at all medical and rehabilitation appointments;
- participate actively in planning and implementing a return to work plan/program;
- participate actively in a vocational return to work plan/program, with the agreed primary goal being the return to pre-injury duties, if possible;
- accept the provision of safe and suitable alternative duties where they form part of an agreed return to work plan/program; and
- abide by agreed medical constraints and provide current designated medical certificates as required.
Roles and Responsibilities
A Case Manager is employed by the Claims Agent or self-insured employer to manage matters relating to rehabilitation and workers’ compensation. It is the Case Manager’s responsibility to determine claims and work with the injured employee, the employer, medical practitioners and Rehabilitation Provider to coordinate the return to work process.
A Claims Administrator is an officer of an organisation who is responsible for the in-house administration of their employer’s workers’ compensation claims. It is the Claims Administrator’s function to liaise with the Claims Agent on behalf of the employer. The HRM Adviser is currently performing this role.
Synod of SA’s Workers’ Compensation - Claims Management Policy deals with the administration of claims.
A Claims Agent is an agent of the WorkCover Corporation. The function of the Claims Agent is to undertake the management of workers’ compensation claims on behalf of the WorkCover Corporation. The current Claims Agent is Employers Mutual.
Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Site Consultative Group
This is not a committee. It is a group of employees that have volunteered to take on an OHS&W role in addition to their regular duties. They are trained in basic OHS&W principles and conduct OHS&W consultation process with all employees on a regular basis. They make recommendations to the Responsible Officer for corrective action on incidents and hazards reported.
Rehabilitation and Return to Work Coordinator (RRTWC)
The RRTWC will liaise with all parties to facilitate the timely return to work performing safe, sustainable employment. A broad description of the role of the Rehabilitation and Return to Work Coordinator (RRTWC) can be accessed on the Human Resources Intranet page.
The Rehabilitation Provider coordinates the rehabilitation and return to work plan/program of injured employees and will liaise with all parties to facilitate the timely return to work performing safe, sustainable employment. The Rehabilitation Provider is responsible for the writing of the return to work plan/program for the injured employee.
Executive Officer, Resources Board< Back to Workplace Policies