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Changes to the interpretation of who is a Rehabilitation Authority

This change applies to employees injured in one Commonwealth or ACT government agency who move to another Commonwealth agency or ACT government agency, where they need rehabilitation for their injury.

Frequently asked questions:

Who is a current employee’s Rehabilitation Authority?

The Rehabilitation Authority is, in all cases, the injured employee’s current Commonwealth employer.

What is the role of the Rehabilitation Authority?

The Rehabilitation Authority:

  • arranges for the employee to be assessed to determine their capability to undertake a rehabilitation program (section 36 of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 [SRC Act])
  • ensures the employee undergoes an examination for assessment purposes (section 36)
  • determines if the employee should undertake a rehabilitation program (section 37)
  • arranges with an approved rehabilitation program provider to provide a rehabilitation program (section 37)
  • takes all reasonable steps to provide an employee who is undertaking, or has completed, the rehabilitation program, with suitable employment or to helps the employee find suitable employment (section 40).

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Who is the liable employer?

The employer at the time of the injury. They remain so for the life of the claim. The liable employer incurs incapacity, treatment and rehabilitation costs for the life of the claim. These costs are incurred through premiums.

When an injured employee takes up employment with another Commonwealth employer, the liable employer is no longer the Rehabilitation Authority able to exercise powers under section 36 and section 37 for that employee. Consequently the liable employer no longer has responsibility for managing the rehabilitation of its injured ex-employee.

Who is the Rehabilitation Authority if the injured employee is separated from the liable employer?

If an injured or ill employee, with a claim under the SRC Act, leaves Commonwealth employment by any means (i.e. redundancy, resignation or involuntary separation) and takes up employment with another Commonwealth employer, the new Commonwealth employer becomes that employee’s Rehabilitation Authority.

However, if the injured ex-employee takes up employment with a private sector company, the last Commonwealth employer remains that employee’s Rehabilitation Authority.

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Who is the Rehabilitation Authority if the injured employee temporarily transfers to another Commonwealth employer?

If the injured employee is temporarily transferred to another Commonwealth employer, and is paid by that new employer, the role of the Rehabilitation Authority transfers to the new employer. This would revert to the substantive employer at the end of the employee's temporary transfer.

In the case of temporary transfers, both employers should work in collaboration as much as possible to minimise any adverse impact on the injured employee when changing Rehabilitation Authorities.

In the case where an injured employee is placed with another employer on a temporary basis as part of an arrangement between both employers, if the employee is still being paid by the liable employer, the role of Rehabilitation Authority remains with this employer and not the placement or ‘host’ employer.

Can the rehabilitation case management file and any other information about the employee’s rehabilitation held by the previous employer be shared with the new employer?

Yes. If both the current and former employers are Commonwealth employers, personal information concerning an employee can be transferred from one Commonwealth employer to another Commonwealth employer. The rehabilitation case management file forms part of the personnel records and can be transferred to the new Commonwealth employer, as the new Rehabilitation Authority, without the consent of the injured employee.

In all other cases the former employer will need to have the employee’s consent to disclose any personal information to the new employer. This includes when an employee moves from Commonwealth employment to employment with an ACT Government agency or a licensee and vice versa. 

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How can the Rehabilitation Authority role be transferred smoothly when an employee injured in one Commonwealth agency moves to another Commonwealth agency and needs rehabilitation for their injury?

To ensure return to work intervention is effectively managed, the new Rehabilitation Authority needs up to date information about the rehabilitation and return to work status of an injured employee.

When the Rehabilitation Authority role is transferred, both Commonwealth employers need to work in collaboration to minimise any adverse impact on the injured employee’s recovery. Examples of steps that can be taken to ensure a smooth transition between the former and new Rehabilitation Authority include:

• arrange a rehabilitation case conference to transfer the file, provide a case summary and identify and manage the risks of ongoing incapacity
• maintain the current approved rehabilitation provider (where possible)
• advise the treating doctor and other treating practitioners such as the psychologist and physiotherapist of the transition
• advise the Claims Service Officer at Comcare of the transition.

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If an injured employee moves between Commonwealth employers, can the employers negotiate about who will be the Rehabilitation Authority?

No. If an injured employee moves to a new Commonwealth employer, the Rehabilitation Authority function transfers to the new employer. However, it is strongly encouraged that both Commonwealth employers work in collaboration as much as possible to minimise any adverse impact on the injured employee when changing rehabilitation authorities. Examples of collaboration include:

• arranging a rehabilitation case conference to transfer the file, providing a case summary, and identifying and managing the risks of ongoing incapacity
• maintaining the current approved rehabilitation provider (where possible)
• advising the treating doctor and other treating practitioners such as the psychologist and physiotherapist of the transition.

What happens to the open return to work plan (RTW plan) when an injured employee moves between Commonwealth employers?

If there is an open RTW plan at the time the employee moves from one Commonwealth employer and to another Commonwealth employer, it is up to the new employer, as the Rehabilitation Authority, to take over the rehabilitation management. In this case the new Rehabilitation Authority can decide to:

• revoke the original section 37 determination by closure and re-issue a new determination; or

• change the original section 37 determination by amendment.

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Should the new Rehabilitation Authority consider the impact of rehabilitation expenditure on liability?

Yes. Proactive investment in rehabilitation is the best way to minimise incapacity and support the injured employee to achieve a safe and successful return to work. In developing a RTW plan, the rehabilitation authority must consider section 37(3) of the SRC Act. More information is available.

If the Rehabilitation Authority is not the liable employer, the new Rehabilitation Authority should contact Comcare for information about any reductions in future liability to pay compensation if the RTW Plan is undertaken.

Can the liable employer dispute a section 37 determination made by the current Rehabilitation Authority?

No. The original employer (premium payer or licensee) can not request a reconsideration of any section 37 determination made by the current Rehabilitation Authority.

What happens if the current Rehabilitation Authority doesn’t provide suitable duties for an injured employee?

The current employer has a statutory obligation to take all reasonable steps to provide an injured employee with suitable duties.

If a current Commonwealth employer does not provide suitable duties, it can impact the Commonwealth premium pool, which affects the premium performance of the whole jurisdiction. There can also be an adverse affect on the employer/employee relationship and broader costs to the organisation.
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Page last updated: 20 Mar 2014