Return to work programs

Employers or businesses, or anyone who falls under the definition of a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (a PCBU), has legal obligations under work health and safety laws.

The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) is the agency with responsibility for workers compensation and there are many benefits for health and wellbeing when a worker is supported by a return to work program after injury. It is good for mental and physical health and reduces the risk of longer term disability.

A return to work program is the formal policy that outlines your general procedures for handling work-related injury or illness. It represents your commitment to the health, safety and recovery of workers following an incident.

Helping your worker to recover at work may reduce the financial impact on your business and enables you to:

  • maintain the skills and knowledge of an experienced worker
  • reduce the cost of training a replacement worker
  • demonstrate to all workers that they are valued employees
  • maintain good employer-employee relationships
  • reduce the length of time your workers are away from work
  • avoid the cost of hiring new staff
  • help to comply with your legislative obligations.

Your obligations

All employers in NSW must have a return to work program within 12 months of starting a business.

Your program must:

  • be developed in consultation with your workers and any industrial union representing them
  • be consistent with your insurer's injury management program
  • comply with the State Insurance Regulatory Authority’s (SIRA) guidelines for workplace return to work programs
  • be in writing and be displayed or notified at the workplace.

SIRA has information, tools and programs to help you with your return to work program.

Find out more

Extra support for small business

If you have five or fewer workers and a workers compensation premium of $30,000 or less, SIRA has a program to assist.

The Return to work assist program for micro employers helps businesses that find it difficult to allow its workers to provide suitable employment.

SIRA also provide a number of vocational rehabilitation programs and a return to work assist program.

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