A major SafeWork Australia survey has found failed return-to-work attempts are on the rise in Australia, with approximately 20 per cent of injured workers needing more than one attempt to successfully return.
The 2018 National Return to Work Survey summary report found that for the last two years, 19.6 per cent of injured workers had to take additional leave after returning to work because of their work injury or illness. This is a significant increase from 15.9 per cent in 2016.
Unsuccessful return-to-work attempts were as high as 27.9 per cent for workers under Comcare, and 28.8 per cent for those covered under WorkSafe Victoria.
The total returned-to-work rate, which measures the percentage of workers who return to work at any point since their work injury or illness, was 92.7 per cent – a figure consistent across all jurisdictions. All but Seacare reported a rate above 90 per cent.
Interestingly, the report found large employers had a significantly higher rate of success when it came to getting inured workers back to work. 81.9 per cent of injured workers from employers with total remuneration of $20 million or more were currently back at work at the time of the survey. Conversely, this figure was only 73.5 per cent for small employers, and 75 per cent for medium employers.
The biennial survey was conducted from April to June this year and included data from 4,602 eligible claimants from all Australian workers’ compensation jurisdictions except South Australia.
The survey also found many employers were utilising modified hours and flexible duties for workers returning to work. While a majority of workers performed the same hours when they returned to work, only 42.6 per cent performed the same duties.
“There are benefits to both workers and employers in having workers back at work at the earliest possibility, even it means a change in the nature of their workplace participation,” the report says.