*The contents in this blog relates to legislation in South Australia.
Every worker who is likely to be off work for a period of four weeks or more is entitled to have prepared a Rehabilitation and Return to Work Plan (RTW Plan). It is a tool used to ensure that when injured workers are able to return to work, even in a limited capacity, that they do so safely and in accordance with their doctors’ recommendation.
The questions I am most commonly asked about these plans are answered below.
Who creates the Plan?
RTW Plans are an agreement between the injured worker, the employer, and the insurance company. They are developed in collaboration with the injured workers’ medical team and only implemented once the medical team is satisfied that the injured worker can safely perform the duties.
My doctors says that I can’t return to my pre-injury role or pre-injury employer. Do I still need a RTW Plan?
Yes. RTW Plans are not just for returning injured workers to their pre-injury role. They encompass a whole host of different possibilities. These include:
- Returning to the pre-injury role with the same employer;
- Returning to a new role with the same employer;
- Returning to the pre-injury role with a new employer; and
- Returning to the workforce in a new role with a new employer.
Identifying the goal that best aligns with your needs is important from the outset.
Turner Freeman Lawyers recommends discussing this with your medical team early and seeking legal advice if you have any concerns about what will be available to you if you go back to the same workplace.
What if I need retraining? Is that something that the insurer will pay for?
In some cases it is not possible for injured workers to return to the work they were doing prior to their injury. The passage of time, the development or implementation of new technology, and the physical restrictions of the injury can all contribute to this. In these circumstances workers are entitled to claim for the cost of retraining to be paid for as part of their RTW Plan.
Turner Freeman Lawyers recommends being as clear as possible about the training you are interested in. When making a claim for this you should include:
- The name of the course or program you are interested in taking;
- The name of the provider;
- The costs associated with the program (resources, travel, class fees etc);
- The duration of the program; and
- A link to the website with the relevant information (if applicable).
Providing this information doesn’t guarantee that the training will be approved, but it helps the insurer consider the application as quickly as possible. Providing multiple options for the insurer to consider might also assist, and it demonstrates your willingness to meaningfully participate in your RTW Plan.
I have asked for a new RTW Plan but it hasn’t been provided. What are my options?
If you have asked for a RTW Plan to be provided, or for an old Plan to be changed, and you have not received a reply – call us!
If you don’t hear from the insurer within 10 business days of your request we can assist you to prepare an Application for Expedited Decision. The South Australian Employment Tribunal can order the insurer to make a decision on your request by a certain date or can decide the matter for them.
If the insurer refuses your request we can assist you to prepare an Application for Review of the Decision. The South Australian Employment Tribunal can review the decision made by the insurer and order them to change it.
When can I see a lawyer?
As soon as you want to.
If you have any questions about your Rehabilitation and Return to Work Plan, call us and we will be happy to assist you. We assist injured workers through the entire workers’ compensation claim process. There is no such thing as “too soon” or “too late” to see us. We are here for you and eager to help.