SIRA funded programs

Published: 12 August 2019
Last edited: 30 April 2020

SIRA funds a number of programs to support eligible workers with their recovery at work. These include:

  • Recover at work assist for small business
  • Work trial program
  • Connect2work program
  • Equipment and workplace modification
  • Training program
  • JobCover placement program
  • JobCover6 placement program
  • Transition to work program.

The programs can be used in combination or separately and workers can access the programs more than once if eligibility continues.

Recover at work assist for small business

This program helps small businesses overcome financial hardship when providing suitable work to help their worker recover at work.

An assistance payment of $400 per week for a combined total of up to six weeks is available to offset the costs of making alternative arrangements to cover the usual duties of the worker while they participate in a recover at work plan and build capacity to return to their pre-injury duties and hours.

For example, the employer might employ a casual staff member or offer overtime to existing staff.

Eligibility

This program can be used when the worker:

  • is receiving weekly payments
  • has current work capacity
  • is using the program within 26 weeks from the date the injury was entered into the insurer's system.

Small businesses are eligible if they:

  • employ 19 or less full-time (or equivalent) workers and pay a basic tariff premium (general premium charge) of $30,000 or less
  • hold a current workers compensation policy with an insurer in NSW
  • can demonstrate that alternative arrangements have been made to carry out the worker's pre-injury duties
  • can demonstrate it is not reasonable practicable to offer suitable work
  • can demonstrate that engaging additional assistance to enable the worker to recover at work will cause financial hardship to the business.

Using the program

The insurer can advise if a worker and employer are eligible to access Recover at work assist for small business.

A workplace rehabilitation provider will:

Note

If a small business using the Recover at work assist program scales back or closes due to the impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the period of the program remaining may be resumed once the period of changed business operations is over and the worker returns to work on their upgrading plan.

The worker should update the vocational program details form with the amended end dates when known and submit to the insurer.

The employer should retain evidence of the business impact due to COVID-19 and provide to the insurer.

Review process

If there is disagreement about eligibility or use of a SIRA funded program, the worker should try to resolve the matter with the insurer in the first instance.

For more information on what to do when a request to use a SIRA funded program has not been approved, see SIRA's How to request a review of a program decision fact sheet.

Further information

Work trial

Work trials enable workers to stay active and develop new skills which can be an important part of recovery. The trial provides work-based opportunities for a worker to upgrade their capacity, develop skills and/or gain on-the-job experience following a work-related injury or illness.

A work trial may be suitable if the worker’s pre-injury employer is unable to provide suitable work, or the worker is returning to work with a different employer and on-the-job training is required.

During a work trial, the worker is placed with a suitable host employer for a short period of time (up to 12 weeks). The worker continues to receive weekly payments during the work trial and the host employer is not required to make any payments to the worker.

Costs associated with the work trial, including travel, equipment and clothing, are also covered.

The following principles should be addressed when considering a work trial:

  • the goals of the work trial must be established before commencing the search for a suitable trial
  • the proposed work trial position must be clearly linked to the worker’s return to work goal
  • the work trial is appropriate to the worker’s skills, functional and work capacity and is the most suitable option for the worker
  • the work trial will help the worker to secure employment or upgrade their capacity to return to their pre-injury employer.

Eligibility

A work trial can be used for a worker who:

  • is in receipt of, or entitled to receive, weekly payments
  • has capacity to work, however their pre-injury employer is unable to provide suitable work
  • has not accepted a commutation or work injury damages settlement.

The host employer must:

  • have no current employer/worker relationship with the worker
  • have no workers compensation liability to the worker
  • hold a current workers compensation policy (or be self-insured)
  • not be grouped with the pre-injury employer for workers compensation insurance or insured under the same group self-insurer licence as the pre-injury employer
  • not have a work trial currently running (exceptions can be made for large host employers).

Note: NSW State Government employers may use a work trial within other state government departments. A Commonwealth or interstate employer may be eligible for the program providing they meet the criteria.

Using the program

The worker, insurer, employer or approved workplace rehabilitation provider may determine that a work trial is a suitable strategy to help the worker’s recovery at and return to work.

The assessment, development and implementation of the work trial is to be managed by a workplace rehabilitation provider. If a provider is not currently involved in the worker’s support team, a referral is to be made. See ‘Workplace rehabilitation providers’.

The workplace rehabilitation provider will:

The work trial checklist can be used to help the workplace rehabilitation provider ensure all necessary considerations have been made.

Review process

If there is disagreement about eligibility or use of a SIRA funded program, the worker should try to resolve the matter with the insurer in the first instance.

For more information on what to do when a request to use a SIRA funded program has not been approved, see SIRA's How to request a review of a program decision fact sheet.

Further information

Connect2work program

Connect2work is a voluntary short-term work placement with a host employer. It supports recovery at work for workers where:

  • their pre-injury employer is unable to offer suitable work due to COVID-19 or
  • they are looking for new employment

The program provides host employers with a payment of $200 per week.

The program has been developed in recognition of the economic and business impacts of COVID-19 and can be accessed during the pandemic to support workers to continue with their recovery.

Eligibility

A worker is eligible if they:

  • have capacity for work for at least 15 hours per week and their pre-injury employer is unable to offer suitable work due to the impact of COVID-19, or they are looking for new employment
  • are receiving, or are entitled to receive, weekly workers compensation payments, or just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were engaged in suitable work with their pre-injury employer
  • have not accepted a commutation or work injury damages settlement.

An employer may be eligible if they:

  • have no workers compensation liability for the trainee
  • have no current employer/employee relationship with the trainee
  • hot a current workers compensation policy with an insurer or a self-insurer’s licence
  • are not grouped with the pre-injury employer for workers compensation insurance or insured under the same group self-insurer licence as the pre-injury employer.

Note:

  • If an employer has more than one trainee involved in a Connect2work program at any given time, they need to be able to provide adequate training and supervision. Consideration should be made to ensure they have the appropriate support in place given the social distancing requirements for COVID-19.
  • NSW state government employers may use a Connect2work placement within other state government departments
  • A Commonwealth or interstate employer may be eligible for the program providing they meet the criteria.

Using the program

The worker, insurer, employer or an approved workplace rehabilitation provider may determine that a host employer placement is a suitable strategy to help the worker recover at work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The workplace rehabilitation provider will:

  • conduct an assessment of suitability of the placement
  • match the specific goals of the placement and capacity of the trainee to the essential requirements of the job
  • assess the trainee’s ability to perform the tasks safely
  • facilitate the completion of the Connect2work host employer agreement.

It is essential that the trainee and host participate in the workplace assessment to confirm the host’s capacity and willingness to offer duties that will support the trainee’s recovery at work.

To claim the payment the host uses the Vocational program - claim for payment form and sends to the workplace rehabilitation provider for verification. The workplace rehabilitation provider confirms the worker has participated in the program through monitoring of progress and sends the verified claim for payment form to the insurer for payment.

Review process

If there is disagreement about eligibility or use of a SIRA funded program, the worker should try to resolve the matter with the insurer in the first instance.

For more information on what to do when a request to use a SIRA funded program has not been approved, see SIRA's How to request a review of a program decision fact sheet .

Further information

Equipment and/or workplace modifications program

The Equipment and/or workplace modifications program provides funding for workplace equipment and/or modifications that may help a worker to remain at work with their pre-injury employer, or commence work with a new employer.

The following principles should be addressed when submitting an application for equipment and/or workplace modifications:

  • it is not an item that should be provided by the employer as part of their obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
  • the cost is reasonable and other alternatives have been explored and considered to be inappropriate
  • it will be used for a reasonable period of time and is solely or mainly for the use of the worker
  • existing equipment or lack of the required item was not a contributing factor to the initial injury (where the worker is returning to the pre-injury employer)
  • it is essential to allow the worker to return to or remain at work, or to commence a new work role (for example, tools of the trade such as a basic toolkit)
  • the workplace modifications are particular and specific to the worker’s functional requirements in allowing them to return to work.

Eligibility

This program can be used by a worker who:

  • is receiving or entitled to receive weekly workers compensation payments when the program commences
  • hasn’t accepted a commutation or work injury damages settlement.

Where a worker is entitled to claim new employment assistance, this entitlement must be exhausted before accessing funding under the Equipment and workplace modifications program.

Note

A worker who is receiving workers compensation payments and is required to work from home to manage social distancing requirements, may be able to be supported by SIRA’s equipment program.

Workers should submit an application with evidence of the need to work from home due to COVID-19 for funding of relevant equipment, using the vocational program details form.

Using the program

An application for the equipment and/or workplace modifications program may be made by the worker’s return to work coordinator, insurer or workplace rehabilitation provider. This person can:

  • help determine if this program is suitable for the worker
  • help identify equipment or workplace modifications that meet the worker’s needs and can be funded under the program
  • arrange completion of the vocational program details form
  • organise insurer approval
  • arrange payment for program costs using the vocational claim for payment form.

Review process

If there is disagreement about eligibility or use of a SIRA funded program, the worker should try to resolve the matter with the insurer in the first instance.

For more information on what to do when a request to use a SIRA funded program has not been approved, see SIRA's How to request a review of a program decision fact sheet.

Further information

Training program

The SIRA funded training program can be used to pay for costs incurred by the worker in order to participate in training or education to help them to secure durable employment following a work-related injury/illness.

The training must be conducted by a TAFE, university or other registered training organisation.

Expenses that will be considered include course fees and associated expenses like stationery, textbooks, essential course equipment, travel and accommodation.

The following principles should be addressed when submitting an application for training:

  • the worker is unable to return to their pre-injury duties
  • the worker has insufficient marketable and transferable skills for durable employment
  • the recover at/return to work goal is realistic and appropriate to the worker’s skills, aptitude, interests, preferences, motivation, current and/or anticipated functional and work capacity
  • training will help the worker return to a position reasonably comparable to pre-injury employment (in terms of salary and status) and will result in the end of, or substantial reduction in, weekly payments
  • training will enhance the worker’s prospects of securing durable employment and is considered likely to be the most direct path back to work.

Eligibility

This program can be used by a worker who:

  • at the time of program commencement, is receiving, or is entitled to receive weekly payments
  • has not accepted a commutation or work injury damages settlement.

Where a worker is entitled to claim Education or training assistance, this entitlement must be exhausted before accessing funding under the SIRA training program.

Using the program

An application for the training program may be made by the worker’s return to work coordinator, insurer or workplace rehabilitation provider. This person can:

Note

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, workers who are currently undertaking face to face training funded by SIRA may need support to access equipment to study online if their training institution requires this.

Workers should discuss with the insurer and submit their request using the training application form and providing the information under the 'Do you need an extension amendment?' heading for the equipment, if needed.

Review process

If there is disagreement about eligibility or use of a SIRA funded program, the worker should try to resolve the matter with the insurer in the first instance.

For more information on what to do when a request to use a SIRA funded program has not been approved, see SIRA's How to request a review of a program decision fact sheet.

Further information

JobCover placement program

The JobCover placement program provides incentives to eligible employers to employ a worker who has a work-related injury and is unable to return to work with their pre-injury employer.

The JobCover program provides the new employer with:

  • incentive payments of up to $27,400 for a maximum of 12 months
  • exemption of the worker's wages from their workers compensation premium calculation for two years
  • protection against the costs of changes to the worker’s existing injury during the first two years of employment.

The JobCover program is designed to help the worker secure durable employment that continues beyond the 12 months of employer incentive payments.

Incentive payments increase according to the length of time the worker remains employed:

  • up to $400 per week for first 12 weeks (maximum of $4,800)
  • up to $500 per week for next 14 weeks (maximum $7,000)
  • up to $600 per week for next 26 weeks (maximum $15,600).

Refer to SIRA’s JobCover placement program fact sheet for further information.

Eligibility

The JobCover program can be used for a worker who:

  • is receiving or entitled to receive weekly workers compensation payments when the program commences
  • cannot return to work with their pre-injury employer because of their injury
  • has not accepted a commutation or work injury damages settlement.

The employer must:

  • be a different employer to the pre-injury employer
  • be able to provide a minimum of 64 paid hours per month or a return to pre-injury hours
  • be able to offer employment for a minimum of 12 months
  • hold a current workers compensation policy with an insurer or a self-insurer’s licence.

The offer of employment:

  • must be for either a permanent position or temporary (where there is a fixed-term agreement greater than 12 months)
  • can be full or part-time, casual, labour hire or contract (where the work is ongoing, and where there is a formal agreement with the employer).

The following employment arrangements are not considered suitable:

  • seasonal work
  • the establishment of a small business or other self-employment arrangement.

Confirmation of the employment should be in writing (for example, a letter of offer or employment contract).

Using the program

An application for the JobCover program can be made by the worker’s return to work coordinator, insurer or workplace rehabilitation provider. This person can:

The JobCover checklist can be used to ensure the proposal meets all necessary requirements.

Note

For employers who have employed workers using the JobCover program but need to scale back/close their workplaces temporarily due to the impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the duration of the program for the worker will be increased to accommodate that period of change.

The new end date of the agreement should be re-negotiated between the employer, worker and insurer when known and the amended agreement form should be submitted to the insurer.

Review process

If there is disagreement about eligibility or use of a SIRA funded program, the worker should try to resolve the matter with the insurer in the first instance.

For more information on what to do when a request to use a SIRA funded program has not been approved, see SIRA's How to request a review of a program decision fact sheet.

Further information

JobCover6 placement program

The JobCover6 program is a modified version of the JobCover program designed to help workers locate suitable work where ongoing employment cannot be secured with a new employer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program supports employers to offer employment for up to 6 months duration to a worker recovering from a work-related injury, where the worker is looking for new employment.

JobCover6 provides benefits to a new employer to help offset the costs of engaging and training a new worker. The benefits include:

  • incentive payments of up to $10,400 for up to 6 months
  • exemption of the worker’s wages from their workers compensation premium calculation for two years
  • protection against the costs of changes to the worker’s existing injury for up to two years.

The program benefits can be used individually, as a combination, or as a total package to meet the needs of the employer and worker.

Payments are calculated on a weekly basis up to a maximum amount of $400 per week. The amount paid will be either the gross weekly wage paid* to the worker, or $400 per week should the gross wage exceed the weekly incentive payment amount.

* Does not include superannuation and allowances.

The payment is payable for up to 6 months to a maximum amount of $10,400.

The employer may claim the incentive payment at the end of the placement. If the placement is 12 weeks or longer, the employer and insurer should negotiate a payment schedule which is easy to administer and will maximise the worker’s recover at work outcome.

Refer to SIRA’s JobCover6 placement program fact sheet for further information.

Eligibility

A worker is eligible if they:

  • have capacity for work and they are looking for new employment
  • are receiving, or are entitled to receive, weekly workers compensation payments, or just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic they were engaged in suitable work with their pre-injury employer
  • have not accepted a commutation or work injury damages settlement

An employer may be eligible if they:

  • have no workers compensation liability to the worker (are a different employer to the pre-injury employer)
  • have offered employment to a worker for an agreed period
  • hold a current workers compensation policy with an insurer or a self-insurer’s licence
  • are not grouped with the pre-injury employer for workers compensation insurance or insured under the same group self-insurer licence as the pre-injury employer.
  • are not in receipt of any other wage subsidy for the worker
  • can demonstrate adherence to their jurisdiction’s workers compensation and workplace health and safety legislation.

Note: A Commonwealth or interstate employer may be eligible for the program however they are not eligible for the premium exemption due to the different insurance arrangements between Australian jurisdictions

Confirmation of the employment should be in writing (for example, a letter of offer or employment contract).

Using the program

The worker, insurer or an approved workplace rehabilitation provider may determine the JobCover6 is a suitable strategy to help a worker secure new employment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The insurer will engage assistance if it’s required to:

The party setting up JobCover6 is to ensure that the new employer understands how to claim the incentive payments using the JobCover placement or JobCover6 program/employer incentive payment claim form.

The JobCover6 checklist can be used to ensure the proposal meets all necessary requirements.

Review process

If there is disagreement about eligibility or use of a SIRA funded program, the worker should try to resolve the matter with the insurer in the first instance.

For more information on what to do when a request to use a SIRA funded program has not been approved, see SIRA's How to request a review of a program decision fact sheet.

Further information

Transition to work program

The transition to work program can help pay for the immediate or short term costs that prevent a worker from starting work with a new employer.

This program can help with funding for expenses such as travel costs, relocation and accommodation, child care, clothing or other related expenses. It can provide up to:

  • $200 to help the worker job-seek or start work (tier 1)
  • $5,000 to address immediate or short term barriers that prevent the worker from accepting an offer of new employment (tier 2).

When submitting an application for the transition to work program, the following principles should be addressed in detail:

  • the item or service must address an immediate or short term barrier or need that prevents a worker from participating in job-seeking (tier 1) or accepting an offer of employment (tier 2)
  • the item or service must be cost effective and demonstrate that other options are less effective in addressing the barrier or need
  • the application must demonstrate the worker’s capacity to maintain their financial arrangements independently when the transition to work payment has ceased.

Eligibility

This program can be used by a worker who:

  • is receiving, or is entitled to receive weekly payments at the time the program commences
  • has not accepted a commutation or work injury damages settlement.

Where a worker is entitled to claim new employment assistance, this entitlement must be exhausted before accessing funding under the SIRA transition to work program.

Using the program

In most cases, a workplace rehabilitation provider will arrange use of this program. The provider will:

Review process

If there is disagreement about eligibility or use of a SIRA funded program, the worker should try to resolve the matter with the insurer in the first instance.

For more information on what to do when a request to use a SIRA funded program has not been approved, see SIRA's How to request a review of a program decision fact sheet.

Further information

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