Agents need to assess if the worker is making reasonable efforts to participate in return to work planning. To do this, Agents need to communicate effectively with the worker by explaining what RTW Return to Work compliance is and what obligations the worker has regarding their RTW.
Agents should also attempt to identify any barriers preventing the worker’s compliance with their obligations and in conjunction with the worker, employer and treaters make reasonable efforts to address these barriers. The Agent also needs to be willing to assist the worker in overcoming the barriers identified.
If a worker follows their THP Treating Health Practitioner’s advice, it is not considered an unreasonable effort.
Agents need to ensure that they, or the occupational rehabilitation consultants, actively communicate with the THPs to ensure they are fully informed and able to address or consider any barriers.
Employers and workers are both required to play an active role in the RTW process.
Without an adequate effort on the employer’s part to provide suitable employment, the worker’s ability to make reasonable efforts will be hampered.
Therefore, a decision about a worker’s efforts takes into account the efforts of the employer.
Decisions about the reasonableness of a worker’s efforts need to consider the worker’s individual circumstances as a whole, including non-work related factors.
Some examples of relevant factors that may influence the nature and extent of a worker’s participation include:
Worker does not make reasonable efforts
After the Agent has considered all mitigating factors and then determines the worker has not made a reasonable effort to comply with their RTW obligations, the Agent should contact the worker to:
- advise that they appear to not be complying with a RTW obligation
- explain the action/inaction considered to be non-compliant
- explore the reasons why they have been non-compliant.
Use different methods to communicate with the worker if they are not responding via phone, such as letter and email.
If the worker is failing to respond and/or communicate, then contact should be made with another party such as the worker’s treating health practitioner, solicitor or other person assisting the worker. This contact should discuss:
- any reasons a worker may not be responding and/or communicating
- any barriers to return to work or compliance with their obligations.
Once the return to work barriers have been identified and all reasonable efforts have been made to overcome the barriers and it is deemed that the worker is being unreasonable, the Agent should consider if issuing a warning notice is appropriate.
Non Compliance with IMEs
RTW non-compliance does not apply to independent medical examinations. For further information about complying with IMEs, see: Compliance.