One of the most common complaints regarding the Return to Work process is that employers refuse to consider letting injured workers return to work on reduced duties or before they are fully recovered. Some employers (and insurers) go as far as ignoring and overruling injured workers’ certificates of total incapacity and seldom follow the medical restrictions (whether physical or psychological or both) stated on workcover certificates and return to work plans.
According to the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission – and NOT to our surprise- one of the most common complaints to the Commission is that employers refuse to consider letting injured workers return to work on reduced duties or before they are fully recovered. Instead, injured workers are told, “we are not going to accommodate you” or “we have no suitable work for you based on your statement of capacity”.
aworkcovervictimsdiary was recently very fortunate to be contacted by a former rehabilitation consultant, who after working for a rehab provider (recently mentioned on this site) for about one month was deemed unsuited for the position as he spent too much time focusing on actually assisting injured workers with return to work (RTW) outcomes, rather than endless, mind numbing report writing! This very kind and empathic rehabilitation consultant furthermore offers us all some great insight into the inner workings of rehab providers and has kindly shared with us a free easy and effective guide that he developed for assisting injured workers to apply for advertised positions.
Further to our co-author Trinny’s article of yesterday “Red flagging” injured workers as difficult or not employable, our co-author Madame Zena just forwarded us the following article she read on the WorkCover Queensland website – “Spotting the secondary psychological injury red flags” – and it would be hilariously funny if it were not so true! Whilst this article could just be posted at the bottom of Trinny’s “Red Flag” article, a it’s about the same topic, we found it so painfully hilarious that it deserves a spot on its own!
You may recall that our injured co-author Trinny recently shared a most disturbing Facebook message relating to a “Rehabilitation” Employment Agency who literally “red flags” workers with (a current or) previous workcover claim as “not employable”.
Last year, in the context of an “Injured worker who lied in medical denied injury compensation” we posted some interesting comments and discussions about the problems injured workers face obtaining a new job because they have suffered a workplace injury, are still suffering the consequences of an injury, or, frankly, simply because they have a history of a workers compensation claim.
Let’s face it, many injured workers are routinely sacked, simply because they were injured. Many employers will go to great lengths to find any possible excuse to sack an injured worker, even the most hard working and most loyal amongst us. What’s perhaps most disturbing is that many employers will play “doctor” and actually tell injured workers that they are unfit to perform their duties, even though the injured worker’s treating doctor(s) and specialists may have issued the worker with a certificate of capacity with some easy-to- accommodate restrictions (i.e. accommodated by $200 worth of ergonomic aides in the workplace); or worse, like in this case, the suitable job may actually be in line with the medical restrictions and part of the injured worker’s main contract.
A couple of weeks ago I came across this bizarre but interesting Victorian legal case, whereby the Victorian Supreme Court decided (in 2011) to reduce common law damages awarded to a seriously injured worker by a whopping 70% -because the injured worker – who suffers a major back injury – continued to “recklessly” work on the family farm, harvesting tobacco, despite medical advice . The injured worker who continued to do major damage to his back also sued his father, whom he blamed for basically forcing him to do certain work tasks (for 1 1/2 hrs) which he alleged caused his back to “break”.
Understandably, when a worker is injured (or sick) and when their condition is affecting their ability or capacity to work, they must provide their employer (and workcover) with a “certificate of capacity” from their treating doctor or care provider, such as a physiotherapist, every 28 days (unless special permission given by their insurer to provide 3 monthly certificates). However, what is really important is that these certificates are carefully worded, so that injured workers who do have a work capacity and are able to undertake “suitable duties” are actually protected from (further) harm in the workplace.
Further to Survivor’s post “Fighting For Retraining In The Workcover”, and the many obstacles Victorian injured workers face when it comes to obtaining approval from their workcover insurer for “retraining”; we undertook some additional research into the frustrating “vocational re-education & retraining courses” process.