6 July 2023 posted by Recovery Partners

What is the difference between an employer Return To Work Coordinator and an external Workplace Rehabilitation Provider?

A Return to Work Coordinator’s (RTWC) primary responsibility is to help injured or ill workers return to work safely and as soon as possible after an injury or illness.

Responsibilities include:

  1. Managing the return-to-work process:
    The RTWC is responsible for coordinating the return-to-work process for injured or ill workers, ensuring that they receive the appropriate medical treatment and support, and developing a suitable return-to-work plan.
  2. Liaising with healthcare professionals:
    The RTWC works closely with healthcare professionals, such as doctors and physiotherapists, to ensure that injured or ill workers receive the appropriate medical treatment and rehabilitation.
  3. Communicating with the injured worker and their supervisor:
    The RTWC acts as a liaison between the injured worker, their supervisor, and other relevant parties, such as insurance providers and rehabilitation providers. They keep all parties informed of the worker’s progress and any changes to their return-to-work plan.
  4. Identifying and managing potential barriers to return-to-work:
    The RTWC identifies any potential barriers to a worker’s return to work, such as physical or psychological barriers, and works to address them.
  5. Promoting a safe and healthy workplace:
    The RTWC promotes a safe and healthy workplace by identifying and addressing any workplace hazards or risks that may contribute to workplace injuries or illnesses.

Overall, the RTWC plays a crucial role in ensuring the safe and timely return to work of injured or ill workers in an Australian workplace.

An external Workplace Rehabilitation Provider works with injured workers to help them recover from their injuries and return to work as soon as possible.

Responsibilities include:

  1. Conducting assessments:
    The rehabilitation provider assesses the injured worker’s physical and functional abilities, as well as their psychological state, to determine their suitability for work and the types of work that they can perform.

  2. Developing rehabilitation plans:
    Based on the assessment results, the rehabilitation provider develops a rehabilitation plan that includes strategies to help the injured worker recover from their injury and return to work.

3. Negotiating with treaters:
Rehabilitation providers work closely with treating doctors and other healthcare professionals. This may include negotiating with doctors and treaters to obtain upgraded medical certificates that reflect the worker’s improved physical or psychological condition and their ability to return to work.

4. Liaising with employers and insurers:
The rehabilitation provider works closely with the injured worker’s employer and insurer to coordinate the rehabilitation plan and ensure that the worker’s return to work is successful.

5. Monitoring progress:
The rehabilitation provider monitors the injured worker’s progress and makes any necessary adjustments to the rehabilitation plan to ensure that the worker is making a successful return to work.

6. Providing education and training:
The rehabilitation provider may provide education and training to the injured worker and their employer to promote a safe and healthy workplace and prevent future injuries.

Overall, the role of a workplace rehabilitation provider in the Australian workers’ compensation industry is to facilitate the injured worker’s recovery and safe return to work by providing assessment, treatment, rehabilitation planning, and coordination of services between the worker, their employer, and their insurer.

What is the difference between the two?

While both a Return-to-Work Coordinator (RTWC) and an Workplace Rehabilitation Provider in the Australian workers’ compensation industry share the goal of facilitating the safe and timely return to work of injured workers, their roles and responsibilities differ in several ways.

A Workplace Rehabilitation provider is a tertiary qualified health professional that specializes in the complex needs of workers and employers to achieve timely and sustainable return to work outcomes following injury or illness. They work independently of other stakeholders, like treating health professionals, and strive for a safe and sustainable return to work for injured workers, as approved by their treating practitioners. WRPs provide expert opinion and solutions to resolve workplace injury, and vocational counseling, professional practice, and case management are central to quality vocational rehabilitation service provision.

In addition to helping injured workers return to work safely and sustainably, Workplace Rehabilitation providers work closely with employers to ensure that potential risks for workplace harm are mitigated, the risk of injuring others in the workplace is eliminated or reduced, and the health of the workforce is improved. By focusing on shared goals, communication, and cooperation among the support team, WRPs can improve clinical and occupational outcomes for the worker.

Furthermore, Workplace Rehabilitation providers have a purpose beyond insurances and working for schemes. They understand that workers with an injury or illness have families and broader social networks that are impacted by events that resulted in injuries, conflict, and disease. WRPs believe that good work is therapeutic and promotes recovery, safe work is good for the worker physically, socially, and financially, time off work is often not medically necessary and can delay recovery, and the longer a worker is off work, the less likely they are to ever return.

In contrast, a Return to Work Coordinator (RTWC) is responsible for coordinating the return-to-work process for injured or ill workers in an Australian workplace. Their focus is on coordinating the various aspects of the return-to-work process, including communicating with all parties involved, monitoring progress, and identifying and managing potential barriers to the worker’s return to work. 

While they may work closely with occupational rehabilitation providers, their role is more focused on coordinating the return-to-work process and ensuring that all parties involved are working together effectively.

You may also be interested in:

49 of 378

Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/