Another typical return to work program

We received an email from an injured worker, who wishes to remain anonymous [for obvious reasons] sharing her/his experience with a – what we call – typical return to work program, which supports everything but the injured worker…

Another typical return to work program

Return to work program: in the injured worker’s words (*)

“[About one month ago]  my [treating doctor] made a return to work program which was supported by all. Except my employer.

[My employer], with the support of my [workcover] case manager [of course] suggested a different [return to work] program.

[My employer] proposed return to work plan consisted of different hours and days than what had been requested by my treating doctor. My Employer also insisted I take their return to work plan to my treating doctor for approval [sign off]. The injured workers did not particularly see “an issue” with the new plan and thought that s/he was capable of working the extra proposed day.”

The injured worker’s treating doctor approved the new [employer modified] return to work plan.

The injured worker was also told that “we were to trial the extra hours over the next couple of weeks”. This was to commence the [following week].

However, the injured worker then discovered that her/his employer had actually given annual leave to a large number of senior employees and was short on senior staff.Meaning basically that, having the injured worker available and work on “those hours would in fact cover for those staff members on leave”.

The injured worker was NOT told of this “plan”, because, folks, her/his employer has – in fact – been desperately trying to claim that “they had no suitable work for the injured worker”!

The injured worker strongly believes that they no longer “want her/him” in the company.

Interestingly, the injured worker tells us that the “return to work plan” and “trial of those hours” in fact runs out when the staff on annual leave return back to work!

So, it is nothing but a scam of the part of the employer (and of course the insurer case manager) to use and abuse the injured worker, and it has clearly nothing to do with a legitimate, supportive and /or sustainable return to work plan or program.

We believe it is extremely “underhanded” that the employer requested to have the injured doctor change the return to work program. That the workcover case manager clearly collaborated with the injured worker’s employer to defy the initial doctor’s orders is disgusting, and most likely nothing more than a last resort attempt to obtain her/his ” return to work bonus money“.

They both clearly manipulated the injured worker and her/his doctor to accept a return to work plan to suit their staffing needs rather than the injured worker’s health and recovery needs. This is so calloused.Yet, this “scenario” or “tactic” happens every day to many injured workers.

What’s more it is almost guaranteed that both the employer and the case manager will claim and argue the injured worker’s ability to do the extra work around the time these employees are due to return to work from their annual leave.

“This is proof case managers are more interested and involved in the employers business staffing needs rather than an injured employees medical needs”, says the aggrieved injured worker.


Have you experienced a dodgy return to work plan? Please share your story with us!


(*) Note: modified some of the shared injured worker’s ‘words’ and omitted dates, days etc in order to assure ID protection of the injured worker.





17 Responses to “Another typical return to work program”

  1. Wow glad i found this site!  As a nurse I hurt my back lifting a patient who required 2 people but the company did not listen. My RTW is crap I stick tabs on files all day as they only had a supernumeray position for me. My immediate supervisor has been asking if she can train me in the office work as she desperatley needs help and the training would help me but management has refused. They keep changing my days of employment to suit them. I am part time there  only 3 days a week . Have always work ed weekends so that i can care for my children during the week especially my special needs son but they don;t care as long as they have you doing something.  I run around to specialists, physio, GP and health programes for them as well as the RTW, i am totally exhausted and the kids are .suffering. At the end of the day if i cant return to pre injury duties there will be no job for me so why am i even bothering, After 10 yrs at this employer this is what they offer ,a demeaning and token RTW which is hindering my recovery due to all the stress. Just ridiculous.

  2. Oh, we see, Ah ahhh ahhhh (forgive us – we puke spelling out the name)… unfortunately probably the worst of the worst together with the famous X who Exchanges yes for no.

    Perhaps share your story, or part thereof if you can (you can do it anonymously on our share your story page), or – if you need help/advice – post on “need help with my workcover claim” and we may well be able to help you my friend. Don’t do it alone, don’t go through this nightmare on your own, we’re here to help and support you! We’ll help you kick some butts!

    workcovervictim3 April 26, 2012 at 10:41 am
    • My story’s already out there and and if any one thinks the faceless cowards that hide behind the coperate viel and and flash there cash under the noses of politicians ready to sell the ordinary every day person in the street out are going to beat me Naaaa !!! what gets me is the fact that they think its OK to de-humanise people for profit margins

  3. Why BB well I’m 1of Barry’s Bludgers coming onto 3 years for me and the boss’s insurence co still denies the claim lost my job and possible my house and my mind !! as my father said “no mun no fun my son !! ” he was spot on , and now I’ve won the prize because these poor insurence copanys are doin it tough I mean the 1 I have the pleasure of having All…….. you seen the ads $45 mil for sfs rights , 1,443 billion euros in assets operating in over 70 countrys I can’t go on where do I send the cheque and which blade of grass do I time share !!!!!!!

  4. Yes, congratulations, John -you are an INSPIRATION to all of us!

    With regards to “using complaint letters to show that you are able to work” – this is very true and a fact, folks. As we have blogged many times, including in this article, insurers and defence lawyers have been known to use complaint letters, emails, blogging, facebooking etc to state that if you are capable of putting 2 coherent sentences together per week you are able to hold down a desk job. Utterly pathetic indeed. Our tip: when you email, write letters, facebook etc, ensure you tell the truth and how much psychical and/or mental pain it causes you to do so. Ensure when you use dictation software, you say so (i.e. dictated) or if a third party writes the letter for you, you mention it (i.e. written by X on behalf of…).

    Fact is many case managers will enrage most seriously injured workers at some stage or another, by denying them legit benefits or telling them really stupid things (i.e. I had a case manager who told me in writing she was not interested in my physical condition when my surgeon and myself had explained the last surgical reconstruction had broken and had resulted in catastrophic deterioration of injury!) – which will cause any normal injured worker to retaliate, agony or no agony. And to then hold “letters” and “emails” against those injured workers? WTF!

    See a case of sheer frustration and then insurer held it against the injured person, even threatening with “police action”!!!

    workcovervictim April 26, 2012 at 8:51 am
  5. I was on sickness benefits for five months while recovering and returned to work at the start of August 2009. I was told by the then manager that “they had no obligation to provide me with any suitable duties at all”, but that if I wanted to, I could work day shift on Monday to Friday from 0800 to 1600 hours. A few weeks later the Manager insisted that I had to work night shift again. I provided cardiac reports stating that I should not work night shift and she falsely claimed that I threatened her in an attempt to have me immediately dismissed which almost succeeded.

    The employer did not want me to stay there, I had no weekend shift penalty work, I was the lowest paid of thousands of security staff, despite numerous requests they would not allow me any penalty rate work on Saturday or Sunday which every other employee enjoyed. The base pay rate was $16.82 and hour which means that dayshift only rates are a poverty wage.

    On 30th December 2009 I was stationed at my desk when another operator crept up behind me and pushed me off my chair. He really scared me and I yelled at him to not do it again, he has done this a few times before and it sets my heart racing with anxiety. I yelled at him something like “Don’t f______ do that again” A few other monitoring operators heard me yell out but did not see AB push me off my chair. One other operator BS did witness the assault and it
    was also recorded on two security cameras in the control room. This was enough for the employer to insist that I see a dodgy psychologist. I applied to Fair Work Australia and obtained an order that I could pick my own psychologist and not the dishonest Allianz psychologist they had used before MI. I can highly recommend Ian H. Mackinnon Forensic & Consultant Psychologist as being very professional.

    • What a horrible story, Tim, jeez… lost for words.

      Thank for sharing the great psychiatrist, we have added him to our page of “great doctors” who see workcover patients 🙂

      Another highly recommended IME psych (listed as WorkSafe registered) is Dr P Kornan – Melbourne (City) – see “great doctors page”.

      Remember that you CAN request to see another IME if you so wish to. I had been sent to a real hired gun (and about 4 or 5 IME psych in a period of 18 months) and they wanted me to return to the hired gun of course, notwithstanding that the other IMEs had also requested a “review”. I refused to see that terrible IME and managed to make a case to see an independent IME of my choice, given that WorkSafe Vic’s brochures so clearly state that “all IME are independent”, it should no matter to them, right? My lawyer organised me to see Dr Kornan, whom I had never seen before and he was by far the nicest and most human IME I had ever met.


  6. Another “lesson” we learned the hard way with these “return to work programs” is that many injured workers are forced – at gun point really [think: case manager tells injured worker repeatedly “if you don’t cooperate I will cut off your benefits/close your claim”] – to return to work, when they are not ready, in demeaning roles/duties and, often, in jobs that will cause FURTHER harm.

    Look at Lisa (Workcovervictim) who was repeatedly forced to continue work full time, with a mangled arm, in a job which caused very severe exacerbations to her injury, as workcover and the employer refused (for years) to implement simple, reasonable and repeatedly prescribed ergonomic aides in the workplace. The result? Apart from suffering 1 to 2 major , very painful, surgical reconstructions per year, 2 life threatening anesthetic complications, she has now also lost ALL function in her dominant arm and her situation is hopeless, as the arm is “end stage” and irreparable.

    Not only did she lose her career, hobbies, independence, but she has now also lost her dominant arm forever, her dignity and her ability to work. She lives “a cripple’s life”, is in severe pain and is not looking forward to the future as her pain and condition just worsen on a daily basis. And for what? To save an employer $500 in ergonomics and to “give” a rotten soulless case manager a “bonus” for “RTW achievement”… An entire beautiful life wasted.

    STAND UP, fight for your rights and do NOT let anyone do any further harm to you, please. No amount of “compensation’ can ever make this right. You will stay crippled for ever, in pain, with or without a pathetic little lump sum which will barely cover your debts and a “compensation” (damages claim) barely enough to live a life of utter poverty (think K400 = K40 for 10 years or K20 for 20 years!)

    workcovervictim3 April 25, 2012 at 8:42 pm
    • Just to add to your comments – I had a combative stance from the outset when, after winning my case, I was then forced to submit to the rules and regulations put to me by a so-called case manager.  In fact, after voicing my displeasure at being dictated to I was sent to see a psychiatrist.   The psychiatrist was appalled at the reasoning offered by the insurer which went something like ‘ if he is well enough to send emails of complaint, he is well enough to work’.  Between 2003 and 2007 I was required to see 10 psychiatrists all who offered the same diagnosis ‘ major depression that was wholly work related’ – all put forward recommendations for treatment and a speedy resolution.  It took until 2009 for the insurer to contact me to offer career retraining.

      I am about the complete a degree, funded by WorkCover,  in applied social science, majoring in management (how to do it fairly and humanely).  And, I intend to commit the rest of my working life to helping, representing and fighting for the rights of injured workers.  Hopefully, I can also help in the prevention, up front of many of the injuries that end up being made worse by a broken system.    Employers and insurers need to be in the firing line much more than they currently are.

      There is a huge battle ahead I am sure – but one worth fighting for.

      • Congratulations on nearly completing your degree.

        As a long-term injured worker I have also been considering commencing tertiary education.

        Could you assist by telling me what state your claim was in and under what program your degree is funded? I really want to investigate my options in this regard.


        • Hi WOW

          I was contacted in 2009 by the insurer who were finally aware of my position – after intensive lobbying, I might add.   They wanted to explore retraining – now, it is important to note, because I occupied a relatively high ranking position they understood that a career change that met with pre-injury income would entail substantial retraining.   They assess pre-injury occupation and income to determine just how much they are willing to invest.   They also knew that their negligence played a major role in my case, so they didn’t object too much when I told them I wanted to complete a degree.  Nor did they object to my future plans for tackling the system.  My case, I am led to believe is rare.  But if you can find a justification based on your career path pre-injury you may just be able to convince them that it is a wise investment.

          My study is funded by WorkCover NSW under retraining

          Good luck.

          Kind regards

          John Mc


          John McPhilbin April 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm
          • Thank you John for sharing this information, much appreciated.

            By the way, folks, I managed to obtain funding too for a uni course (diploma in business management) under WorkSafe – retraining. Again, like John, much of the rationale was based on a realistic RTW and sustainable job and also based on pre-injury salary (as I had to completely change careers). I was told by my union at the time that I would never succeed! But I did (via conciliation in which I provided a vocational assessment (non-biased), and multiple supportive reports from my treaters).

            Kick butt!

            workcovervictim3 April 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm
  7. Welcome to the occult world of misery sponsored by a corrupt government agency near to you

    My story is so similar ie all the focus is on the rehab agent,(evil lowlife scumbags) the employer(possibly not your best friend through this process) and the insurer(well just look at the antics of callie sonter for a prime example) these lowbrow types will LET you have a demeaning demoralizing and lower paid job if your are one of the lucky few to survive mentally intact after their combined barrage of bullshit and unethical conduct

    Collusion is an agreement, usually secretive, which occurs between two or more persons to deceive, mislead, or defraud others of legal rights.

    Here endeth the lesson

  8. Please assist in supporting our injured and ill workers in their fight against OFarrells disgraceful attacks on their benefits and lives.These stories are the first of a series being  put together by members of our injured workers support network in retaliation of O’Farrells view that  injured workers are “bludgers” and “should just get back to work’.

    View and share this link on your social media as workers begin to tell the real  stories of what happens when your on workers comp…

    • Prior to doing this interview I had no idea about the stories and background of other participants.  Heartbreaking stuff, at least I know that I am not alone.  The system has to change, I have never been so committed to a fight as this one.

      Kind regards

      John Mc


      John McPhilbin April 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm
      • Hi John
        Great to see your participation in the interview. As heart-wrenching as the stories are, it is probably the only was (and the best way) for the Goverment, Australian public (and the world) to see how injured workers are really being treated and what they are going through. I have put the video up in our sidebar (right below). Keep strong and keep us posted. Thank you again for your invaluable support!

      • Thank you for the courage that you have showed