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Return to work process for claimants

For: Claimants Advocates

If you have sustained a work-related injury or illness, your employer is responsible for managing your recovery and return to work.

There are seven steps to the return to work process.

The process explained

This is a short overview of the typical return to work process in the Comcare scheme.

Step 1 – Notification of injury

You should notify your supervisor as soon as you experience an accident, injury or illness – whether you intend to make a workers’ compensation claim or not.

Your supervisor discusses your immediate needs with you and takes steps to prevent further injury or illness.

Step 2 – Contact with a rehabilitation case manager

Once your supervisor has been made aware of your injury, they should notify a rehabilitation case manager within your organisation.

The rehabilitation case manager should contact you to discuss:

Step 3 – Assessing your need for rehabilitation services

Your rehabilitation case manager decides whether you need an assessment for a rehabilitation program.

You may not need a rehabilitation assessment if you only have minor restrictions or if your medical practitioner says you are fit to return to work. If this happens, your medical practitioner must provide clear medical guidance on your capacity for work.

If you ask for a rehabilitation assessment, your rehabilitation case manager must organise one for you.

Step 4 – Rehabilitation assessment

If you need a rehabilitation assessment, or you have requested one, your rehabilitation case manager chooses an appropriate assessor. This may be a:

Your rehabilitation case manager provides the assessor with information about your circumstances. This may include:

  • medical reports
  • details of your pre-injury employment
  • a schedule of questions to be answered.

If you have been asked to attend a rehabilitation assessment, you must do so, unless you have a reasonable excuse for failing or refusing to attend.

Outcome of a rehabilitation assessment

A rehabilitation assessment provides information about:

  • your injury
  • your fitness to remain at or return to work
  • recommendations to support a safe and early return to work, including any reasonable adjustments.

Following the assessment, a report is usually provided to the rehabilitation case manager. The report must be provided to you (or your representative) and your must be advised of the findings of the report and the next steps in your rehabilitation.

Step 5 – Return to work planning

Your rehabilitation case manager decides whether you need a rehabilitation program to help you return to, or recover at, work. A rehabilitation program outlines the support and services you need to return to work quickly and safely.

A rehabilitation program is usually coordinated by your rehabilitation case manager or a workplace rehabilitation provider.

Your employer must take all reasonable steps to provide suitable employment for you. Reasonable adjustments are also considered to provide support for your recovery and return to work.

You must be consulted on the rehabilitation program. Actively engaging in your program gives you the best opportunity to recover and return to work.

Step 6 – Monitoring your progress

You, the rehabilitation case manager, your treating medical practitioner and workplace rehabilitation provider (if one has been engaged) monitor and review the rehabilitation plan and how you are progressing.

You should discuss any concerns about your progress, or the services provided by your workplace rehabilitation provider, with your rehabilitation case manager in the first instance. You can also raise any concerns with your workplace rehabilitation provider directly to Comcare by emailing rehab.approval@comcare.gov.au or calling us on 1300 366 979.

Your supervisor is responsible for providing support to implement the program and for providing feedback to the rehabilitation case manager.

Step 7 – Closing the rehabilitation program

When all the objectives of your rehabilitation program have been achieved, or current rehabilitation goals are no longer achievable and a new rehabilitation program is needed, the program is closed.

Closing a rehabilitation program does not stop rehabilitation services being provided in the future if your circumstances change.

More information

For more information on these steps, see our Rehabilitation Case Manager handbook (PDF, 952.8 KB).

If you are an employer, see the steps in the return to work process for employers.

Page last reviewed: 25 November 2020
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GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 | www.comcare.gov.au

Date printed 26 Jun 2022