Safe Work Australia releases National Return to Work Survey

The biannual Return to Work survey, commissioned by Safe Work Australia conducted by the Social Research Centre Melbourne (SRC) has been released for 2018.

The Return to Work Survey compares the return to work experiences and outcomes of injured workers against a range of variables to ascertain their rehabilitation and transition back into paid work. These variables included severity of injury, time spent away from work, and job position upon their return to the workplace.

The SRC conducted 4,602 telephone interviews with workers claiming for injuries between 1st February 2016 and 31st January 2018. This was the first time the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) participated in the survey.

An overwhelming majority (92.7%) reported having returned to work after a prolonged (over 10 days) work-related injury or illness.

This dipped slightly from 2016’s report (93.4%.) The total who returned to work and stayed in paid employment since their return was 81.8%, a 0.7% increase.

38% of those surveyed said they worked reduced hours upon their return to work. The same proportion also noted they were performing modified duties, with 19% said they were performing different duties altogether.

The survey tracked a significant increase in unsuccessful return to work attempts over on 2016’s figures, at 19.6%.

Other key takeaways from the report include:

  • 3% of workers had completed a Return to Work plan prior to their return
  • Respondents who thought they would be treated differently upon their return dipped 0.2% to 32.2% over 2016’s results
  • Respondents who believed they would be terminated if they made a workplace claim jumped from 18.7% to 21.5%
  • A first for this survey, 15.6% of respondents reported their employer discouraged them from making a claim
  • Workers with mental illness were most likely to work in a reduced capacity or hours when returning to work (53.7%)
  • 5% of respondents said they “Agreed or Strongly Agreed” that healthcare was easy to access
  • 4% of workers agreed their employers “did what they could to support them” in returning to work
  • 6% of workers said they experienced higher than normal levels of financial stress, with Queensland (31.8%), Northern Territory (30.3%) and the ACT (29.8%) appear more likely to have above average levels of financial stress
  • 2% of respondents said they had stressful interactions with their return to work coordinator, with 25.1% of those suffering from a mental illness.

The entire report, including both summary and headline measures, are available for download at Safe Work Australia’s website.

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