What to expect from your workplace rehabilitation provider

What is a workplace rehabilitation provider?

Workplace rehabilitation providers help address risk factors which may impact the worker’s ability to recover at/return to work. These factors may include difficulty identifying suitable work, assistance with equipment and workplace modification needs, complex injury or communication breakdown.

The workplace rehabilitation provider will appoint a rehabilitation consultant who will work with the employer, worker, doctor and insurer to achieve a positive recovery at work outcome. The rehabilitation consultant will be a health professional such as an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, exercise physiologist, rehabilitation counsellor or psychologist.

Why is recovery at work important?

Research shows:

  • the longer a worker is away from work, the less likely they are to return to work
  • staying active after injury reduces pain symptoms and helps workers return to their usual activities at home and at work sooner
  • working helps workers stay active which is an important part of a worker’s treatment and rehabilitation.

What services will a workplace rehabilitation provider provide?

Recovering with the same employer

Depending on the needs of the worker and employer, a workplace rehabilitation provider can be engaged to provide a single service (such as a workplace assessment), or provide ongoing support until the worker has achieved a safe and durable recovery at work.

Workplace rehabilitation services are usually delivered at the workplace in consultation with all parties. These may involve:

  • assessing a worker’s capacity to perform duties safely
  • identifying duties that will support improvements in a worker’s capacity
  • identifying options to help reduce work demands (including providing advice on equipment, job or workplace modifications)
  • identifying and addressing risks that may impact a worker’s recovery at/return to work outcome
  • implementing and monitoring a plan to achieve an agreed recovery at work goal.

Return to work with a new employer

Most workers are able to recover and remain with their pre-injury employer. However, where this is not possible, workplace rehabilitation providers can help a worker obtain work with a new employer. This may involve:

  • assessing the worker’s skills, education and experience
  • identifying suitable work options, providing job seeking assistance and organising training (where appropriate)
  • accessing appropriate programs and services that support the worker to secure employment.

Read more information about help with getting people back to work.

Engaging a workplace rehabilitation provider

Employers are required to nominate and list preferred workplace rehabilitation providers in their return to work program. Find an approved workplace rehabilitation provider.

While it is usually the employer or insurer who decides which provider will be used in each situation, the worker should be consulted on the decision and given the opportunity to refuse or request a change in provider.

The insurer is responsible for engaging the provider and paying for their services. Service costs are recorded as a claims cost.

After being engaged by the insurer, the provider will contact the employer and worker to discuss their needs and arrange suitable times to meet.

Whether you are the employer or the worker there are some key questions you can ask when you first meet with the provider:

  • How often will you see or contact me?
  • How can I best communicate with you about my/the worker’s progress?
  • What services will you provide?
  • How can I contribute to my/the worker’s recovery?
  • How long do you estimate it will take to achieve the agreed goal?

You can also support the process by giving the provider information such as:

  • a description of the pre-injury role
  • a list of available short term suitable work options
  • any recover at work or return to work plans already developed
  • contact details for the worker, employer, return to work coordinator, doctor and other treating health professionals (where appropriate).

Workplace rehabilitation providers may arrange or participate in case conferences with the worker and other parties including the nominated treating doctor to assist recovery at/return to work planning. A case conference is to be separate from the workers medical consultation, unless otherwise agreed by the worker and nominated treating doctor.

Additional recover at work support

The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) provides and funds a number of vocational rehabilitation programs to help employers support their workers to recover at/return to work or where necessary, obtain a new job.

The programs address barriers and risks to recovery at work such as:

  • a lack of suitable work options that match the worker’s current capacity
  • the need for workplace modifications or equipment
  • the need for additional training and/or skill development
  • financial difficulties for the employer.

The workplace rehabilitation provider will be able to provide you with information about available programs to help workers get back to work.

Further information, concerns and complaints

More information about recovery at work, workplace rehabilitation providers and workers compensation is available on our website.

Workplace rehabilitation providers are approved by SIRA under the Nationally Consistent Approval Framework for Workplace Rehabilitation Providers. The framework and the NSW Supplement outline the requirements workplace rehabilitation providers must meet in order to deliver services in NSW.

Concerns about a workplace rehabilitation provider should be discussed with the manager of the provider. If this does not address the issue, contact your insurer case manager. If the issue is still not resolved after the assistance of the insurer, discuss the possibility of obtaining a referral to a different workplace rehabilitation provider.

Where appropriate, the insurer will escalate issues related to conditions and service delivery to SIRA.

Find a SIRA approved workplace rehabilitation provider or call us on 13 10 50.