March, 2019

15/03/2019

Workplace Return to Work Programs – Do you need a review?

This is a reminder to our valued clients who have business operations in New South Wales. The latest Return to Work regulatory reforms have now been in place for 18 months and all employers should now be compliant. The extent of the requirement will be dependent on your status as a Category 1 or Category 2 Employer. However, the fundamental requirements and obligations in respect of how an injured employee is returned to work are largely the same.

Am I a Category 1 or Category 2 Employer and what does it mean for my Return to Work Program?

Category 1 Employer

  • Basic workers’ compensation tariff premium over $50,000 a year.
  • Self-insured.
  • Insured by a specialised insurer and has over 20 employees (if you’re insurer is an insurer other than iCare, the government’s nominal insurer, then this may be your category).

Category 1 Employer must follow the four activities in the SIRA Guidelines for workplace return to work programs issued May 2017 and comply with the regulations (Part 6 of the 2016 Regulation and section 52(1) of the 1998 Act). The four activities are: Appoint a Return to Work Coordinator; Develop a Return to Work Program; Consult with workers and unions; and, implement the Return to Work Program.

Category 2 Employer

  • Basic workers’ compensation tariff premium of $50,000 a year or less
  • Insured by a specialised insurer and has fewer than 20 employees.

Category 2 Employer must either adopt SIRA standard return to work program for Category 2 employers or develop their own program based on the SIRA Standard Return to Work Template. The three main activities for a Category 2 employer: Appoint the person responsible for recovery at work; develop a Return to Work Program; and, implement the Return to Work Program.

What does this mean for you as an employer?

If you are a Category 1 employer you are to have your Return to Work Program in place within 12 months of having become a Category 1 employer. Your Return to Work policies, procedures and documentation must comply with the regulations as they are being applied to Category 1 employers. If you haven’t reviewed these in the last 12 months (during 2018) they may not meet prescribed standards and need to be edited or replaced. It includes the requirements to appoint a properly qualified dedicated Return to Work Coordinator. SIRA do provide a Checklist for Category 1 employers regarding compliance you may find useful.

If you are a Category 2 employer, conveniently defined as any PCBU who isn’t a Category 1 employer, you also have prescribed requirements. The prescribed regime is an abridged version of what is required of Category 1 employers that recognises Category 2 employers likely have fewer resources dedicated to administrative processes. However, the basic requirements and obligations in respect of how an injured employee is returned to work is largely the same. There are also variations regarding the requirements for the Return to Work Coordinator. SIRA do provide a Standard Return to Work Program Template for Category 2 Employers.

We have recently completed a full audit and update of our documentation and templates in respect of Return to Work Programs and coordination. If you have any concerns that your current processes may not be up to date, NCA Consulting can offer assistance in auditing your Return to Work regime for compliance and assist in overcoming any deficiencies. If you have any questions or would like to have us review your current suite of Return to Work Policies, Procedures and Documentation please contact us on 1300 186 684.