Understanding recovery at work as an employer

Recovering at work can be a key part of rehabilitation for an injured employee. As an employer, understand how you can help and who else plays a role in their recovery. Learn about managing payments and options for more serious injury.

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    Support your employee to return to work 

    Your people are vital to the success of your business. When one of them gets injured – either at work, or elsewhere - it can have a significant impact. Not only for the injured person, but on teammates, staff morale and productivity.

    Research shows the sooner an injured person gets back to work and everyday life, the better it is for their health, wellbeing, and recovery. 
    Work can be a key part of most people’s rehabilitation after an injury. Remaining connected to work provides:

    • structure and routine
    • social connection with workmates
    • a sense of purpose.

    These all contribute to a good recovery. 

    Many injured employees are keen to continue working. Those who had a positive recovery at work experience say it helped them:

    • return to normality
    • increase their strength and mobility
    • boost their mental and psychological wellbeing. 

    Who plays a role in recovery at work

    It takes a team effort to help an injured person recover at work. Depending on their injury, support people might include:

    • their family, whānau and friends
    • you as their employer, along with their team leader or supervisor, teammates, and health and safety representatives
    • your employee’s health providers, like their doctor and physiotherapist 
    • in some cases, a vocational rehabilitation provider, such as an occupational therapist
    • an ACC recovery team member.

    As an employer, you can play your part by:

    • checking in with your injured employee early and regularly
    • talking with them about what support they need and what they can do safely
    • tailoring their work to their recovery needs. That might be by adjusting duties, work environment, workload or hours.

    Your employee may get help from one of our recovery teams if they need more support because of their injury. They’ll contact both you and your employee, and we’ll work together to support their recovery journey. 

    Supporting resources

    To help, we’ve created resources with practical information what you can do to support your employee as they recover at work.

    Resources to support recovery at work

    Cover page of supporting injured employee guide

    Supporting your injured employee - guide for employers

    In this guide, you’ll learn what you can do to support your employees as they recover from injury. The information can be tailored to your workplace to support employee wellbeing and maximise productivity.

    Download pdf 353 KB

    What to do when your employee is injured

    As an employer, there are some key things to do to support your injured employee to recover at work.

    Learn what to do
    Injured employee with wrist support and arm around employer both smiling at camera

    Managing payments during your employee’s recovery

    Your injured employee can receive income from both you and ACC at the same time. This could mean they get up to 100% of their usual weekly earnings.  

    As their employer, you pay them for the hours they work. We then reduce the weekly compensation amount paid to your employee, based on the income they receive from you. This is called abatement.

    Managing employee payments as part of a gradual return to work plan employer quick guide

    Income for your employee while they recover

    Work trials

    An unpaid work trial is an alternative way to help your employee be at work while we continue to pay their weekly compensation. A work trial can be useful if:

    • you don't have much productive work available
    • you've hired replacement labour.

    You don’t pay the employee for the duration of the work trial. Instead you provide them with opportunities to be at work.   

    Work trials need to be made with the agreement of us and your employee. They are of short duration, usually up to two weeks, and no more than four weeks.

    Trialling a return to work employer quick guide

    If your employee has a long-term disability

    If an employee has ongoing disability due to an injury, support arrangements can be more complex. They may need time off for treatment and rehabilitation before they can return to work.

    If your employee can't return to work

    It can be unclear with long-term injuries when your employee will be able to return to their job. If medical opinion suggests your employee will never be able to return to their role, and you can't offer them a permanent alternative job, we'll let you know what the next steps are.

    In some cases, we can help them upskill to find a new job.

    Learn how teamwork makes recovery work

    Everyone has a role to play in supporting injured people get back to work. Watch our video and use the resources.

    Watch now
    Last published: 23 January 2024