• Keith Cresswell
    Have you had success in changing workers willingness to take on restricted duties when injured?

    Our industry is considered high risk, and our workers will suffer minor scrapes and sprains from time to time, we realise we can't eliminate all of them but hope to minimise and enable alternative duties in as many cases as possible.
    Our challenge is convincing our teams of the value in attending work on light / alternate duties.
    Two recent examples one worker cut fingers - quite a painful injury but was willing to accept light duties until recovered, in the second example we had a similar injury, but the worker was unwilling to accept light duties and remained fully unfit for a week. (with med cert)

    Any great experiences out there?
  • Andrew
    I'm struggling to think of the last time we had someone who didn't want to come back on a light duties return to work programme. We do return to work for non work injuries as well.

    Its not the employee that's the barrier its ACC.

    For work related injuries I still get pinged for time off until the employee returns to full duties.

    And worst of all are the doctors who ACC still insists on paying for "Here, have another five days off work"

    We won't take a person back unless they have clearance from a doctor to do light duties.

    (Actually I can now think of one person. I'm still waiting for a my challenge of the claim to be decided by ACC. This person, and family were serial ACC sitters. Needless to say he was fired)
  • Stephen Small
    Our experience is that for short time periods (less than 2 weeks) then the easy option is for Doctors to give time off - especially injuries on Thursdays.
    For long-term injuries our employees often want (and need) interaction with thier workmates, rather than just sitting isolated at home for weeks on end - we tend to underestimate just how much of thier social interaction our workplace is for many!

    Sometimes we just don't have the alternate duties available for long term injuries, which can become problematic to balance the employee's needs/our needs/ what ACC wants - especially non-work related.

    At a previous employer we reluctantly had an employee back on graduated return to work plan for non-work-related injury. They managed to injure themselves worse than the original injury and ACC were very unhappy - especially when we pointed out that AAC had pushed for GRTW.
  • G K Andrews
    No one wants to injure themselves at work and when they do, their doctors will normally err on the side of caution and give them more time rather than less. For an employer, this can be frustrating and sometimes unworkable, but the employee's health must be the bottom line.
    Yes, you'll get some workers, that will play the system to their advantage but in general, workers don't want to be away from work with an injury and this can be as frustrating for the employee.
    In my workplace, there are very limited opportunities for light or alternative duties.
    The employer has a 'Duty of Care' for their staff and this should be the underlying factor, regardless of how frustrating this is for the employer.
    Your workforce is your most valuable asset, remember this when you're next considering a GRTW, as being a hindrance to rather than a tool for a safe return to work.
  • Julie Healey
    We have put a lot of time and effort into making sure that our process for return to work is structured so we are getting communication and sign off from the returning employee daily, we are also a high-risk business - GP interpretation of light duties is generally not doable because in most cases you can't bend over or turn around so because of this its easier to have them stay at home.
    What we come up against at times is fulltime employees having to babysit RTWEmployees and is that part of their job description!
    Personally, I prefer employees to return to work fully fit - that is what we expect and strive to achieve with all our employees i.e. if you have a cold and not up to a hundred percent don't come to work. There is value in mental wellbeing to RTW granted however, good employer communication and employee participation in managing their mental wellbeing should be No 1.
  • Keith Cresswell
    Thanks for your feedback - seems to be a continuing challenge balancing business need to manage RTW with the workers rights to determine (with their GP) how much capacity they have for work.
    In our experience ACC have little interest in short term absences and even after 3 months we have struggled to get ACC assistance with RTW
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