With the right support, getting back to work after an injury can be an important part of your recovery and overall well-being.
Whether you plan on returning to your pre-injury employment or want to find a new job, returning to work after an injury can help life feel normal again.
If you have experienced a work-related injury, you and your employer have responsibilities as you transition back into work.
Returning to work while managing a work injury, medical condition or disability can be challenging at times.
Getting the right support can help you feel more confident and improve work outcomes as you transition back to work.
Benefits of returning to work after an injury
Getting back to work can be good for your physical health as well as your mental wellbeing.
The structure of going to work can help life feel normal again and give you a sense of purpose.
Working can improve your financial situation, and reduce stress about paying for health-related bills.
Plus, work can help you stay active in your body and brain, and stay connected to others– all highly important factors for keeping mentally healthy during your recovery.
Know your rights and responsibilities
It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against an employee with injury, illness or disability.
That includes refusing to hire you, firing you or treating you differently to other employers because of your injury, health condition or disability.
If you are injured at work, your employer has certain legal obligations they need to meet, such as holding your job for 12 months and helping you transition into a modified role or providing reasonable adjustments to help you do your job safely and properly.
You also have some responsibilities when it comes to returning to work.
In general, you're required to actively participate in your recovery and return to work plan, and make reasonable efforts to return to suitable employment when you're able to do so.
To make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities when returning to work after an injury, it's important to seek professional advice.
Planning your return to work
Starting to plan for your return early can help make the transition more successful.
You should work closely with your treating doctor, your employer and other service providers to ensure a safe and successful transition back to work.
Creating realistic and achievable goals with your support team is a good place to start.
Then, your healthcare team, employer and work coordinator will help you create a step-by-step return-to-work plan.
This explains how you'll get back to work in a way that works for you and your employer.
Your return to work plan should take into account your health needs, your current abilities and limitations and how you're feeling.
Additionally, the plan should outline any alternative duties or changes in the workplace you'll need to do your job properly and safely.
Some of the changes might be permanent, while others might be temporary as you recover.
Your transition back into work
During your recovery, you may not have the same capacity as before and may require different working arrangements.
A gradual return can help you ease back into work at a pace that's right for you.
In most cases, your employer will work with you to find suitable duties that you can do as you get back to work.
You might also work reduced hours or take on a different role in the workplace until you fully recover.
These transitional changes can help you get back to work sooner and can have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being.
If you're unable to return to your pre-injury role or want to make a career change after your injury, you may be eligible for employment support to find suitable employment.
APM can help you with career planning, finding suitable work and building your skills and confidence if you’re returning to work after a long absence.
Reasonable adjustments can help you manage your health while performing your work tasks in a safe way.
Your employer is required to seriously consider all requests for reasonable adjustments in the workplace or to the work process.
You and your employer may be eligible for funding through the Employment Assistance Fund for some work-related reasonable adjustments.
Reasonable adjustments may include:
- Changes to the work environment to make it more accessible. For example, moving your workstation to the ground floor or relocating furniture for wheelchair use.
- Changes to your work schedule. For example, part-time work or flexible start and finish times.
- Working from home part or all of the week.
- Time off for medical treatment and health appointments.
- Reallocating work duties to another worker. For example, assigning any heavy lifting tasks to someone else in the office.
- Special equipment, such as an ergonomic desk, adapted keyboard or hands-free phone.
- Supervision or a work buddy who can assist with day-to-day work activities when needed.
- Changes to the work process, such as providing written or verbal instructions, breaking tasks into smaller steps or allowing regular breaks throughout the day.
Support for returning to work after an injury
With the right support, returning to work after an injury can be a positive experience.
And knowing when and where to get help can make the transition easier.
At APM, we help people living with injury, illness or disability find work and thrive in the workplace.
As Australia's largest provider of Disability Employment Services, eligible participants can access employment support from our team at no cost.
When you register with APM, a dedicated employment consultant in your area will work closely with you to create a return-to-work plan that's right for your situation, your health and your goals.
We can help with things like:
- Workplace accommodations and special equipment
- Workplace assessments
- Accessing mental health services
- Finding suitable employment
- Career planning
- Employment skills and work experience
Find out if you're eligible today. Call us on 1800 276 276.