Employer obligations when supporting an injured employee
It’s most probably a truism to say that the fewer the number of employees, the fewer the workplace injuries (all things being equal). So whilst a low number of injuries is to be lauded, this also introduces a number of problems for many SMEs.
The first issue is that with few injuries, it’s likely that the employer has little experience with supporting an employee injured at work. The second is that many SMEs don’t have a HR department or even an employee who understands their company’s obligations to injured employees.
This leaves the owner or senior management to handle an injured employee’s claim without the benefit of experienced personnel. If all of this sounds like a situation that could affect your business, we have put together a general accounting of these obligations below.
It’s only general, however, because each state or territory has their own Workers’ Compensation regulator that provides specific advice on this topic. To contact the Workers’ Compensation regulator in your state or territory, check out the Fair Work website.
Employer obligations immediately following the incident
The first step is to ensure that your employee receives immediate first aid and any further medical attention that’s required. Details of the incident need to be recorded in a Register of Injuries and as soon as reasonable, the injured employee will need to complete an Incident Report. You will also need to notify your insurance provider of the incident, usually within 48 hours of being informed of its occurrence.
Employer obligations when a claim is made against Workers’ Compensation
If the employee is unable to return to work due to their injury, then you will need a medical certificate as evidence. You also need to communicate with the employee’s medical practitioner to discover the following:
- Length of time until the employee can return to work.
- Whether they can return to their normal duties.
- Will the employee need assistance on returning to work?
- How will you receive updates on the injured employee’s progress?
Employer obligations to support an injured employee returning to work
As an employer, you are obligated to provide equivalent work to your injured employee on their return to work. This may involve light duties, alternative equipment or flexible hours. Your goal is to return the employee to their original role with your company, but if their injuries prevent this from happening, then another suitable role should be made available. If you have problems finding suitable work duties for your returning employee, your insurance provider will be able to help with a workplace assessment. In the instance that the returned employee no longer has the capacity to undertake suitable work at your company, referral to a workplace rehabilitation provider might be the next step.
It’s good practice to write all of this down so that you have a solid plan designed to help your employee return to work. It’s also a good idea to include progressive goals in this plan, as these help to keep track of their progress. If some these goals appear to be unachievable within the stated time frames, then they can be altered to reflect a more realistic outlook concerning your employee’s return to work schedule.
To find out more about Workers’ Compensation for your business, contact Gail Findlay today.