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Return to work programs

A return to work program is the formal policy that outlines the procedures your organisation will follow to help injured workers recover at work following a work related injury or illness.

SIRA has developed the Guidelines for workplace return to work programs (guidelines) in line with legislation to support, inform and guide employers, workers and other stakeholders in developing a return to work program.

The return to work program must be:

All NSW employers must have a return to work (RTW) program within 12 months of starting a business and it must be done in consultation with your workers and any industrial union representing those workers.

You should update your RTW program to ensure it complies with the Guidelines for workplace return to work programs at the next scheduled review. All RTW programs must comply with the 2017 guidelines within two years from the date of effect of the guidelines. In the meantime, your RTW program must continue to comply with the September 2010 version of the Guidelines for workplace return to work programs.

The new guidelines take effect on 31 May 2017.

We have developed a webinar to explain the updated guidelines to employers. A captioned version of the webinar is also available.

For category one employers

A category one employer is an employer:

  • with a basic tariff premium over $50,000 a year, or
  • who is self-insured, or
  • insured by a specialised insurer and has over 20 employees.

If you are a category one employer, then you must develop a RTW program in accordance with the guidelines for workplace return to work programs within 12 months of becoming a category one employer.

For category one employers, implementing an effective RTW program involves four main activities:

  1. Appoint a return to work coordinator
  2. Develop a return to work program
  3. Consult workers and unions
  4. Implement the return to work program

SIRA has developed a return to work program checklist for category one employers to help you develop, implement and review a RTW program.

For category two employers

A category two employer is any employer who is not a category one employer as described above.

For category two employers, implementing an effective RTW program involves three main activities:

  1. Appoint the person responsible for recovery at work
  2. Develop a return to work program
  3. Implement the return to work program

Category two employers can meet their obligation by adopting or customising the SIRA standard return to work program for category two employers or develop their own RTW program based on this.

The RTW program outlines general procedures for handling work related injuries and illnesses and represents an employer's commitment to the health, safety and recovery of workers following an incident.

Further information

Read our page on help getting people back to work.

Learn more about return to work coordinators.