Supporting your employee back to work
If your employee is injured, we can work together to support their recovery so they can return to work and you can get back to business as usual.
On this page
Having an employee who's injured and can’t work can be difficult for you and your business. We can work together to support your employee’s recovery so they can return to work and you can get back to business as usual.
Who helps your employee’s recovery
There are lots of people involved to help their recovery:
- you as the employer (the employee’s manager or someone to represent the business)
- an ACC recovery team
- your employee’s treatment providers (doctor, physio)
- an occupational therapist.
The recovery team is the point of contact for you and your employee if you have any questions. They’ll communicate with everyone involved.
How long will they take to recover?
When we receive a claim from your employee’s doctor or treatment provider and it’s clear they need more than seven days off work, we’ll assign a recovery team as soon as possible. The recovery team will contact both of you to talk through:
- the next steps
- how long your employee may be off work
- what support they need.
As every injury is different we can’t give exact timeframes. It’s good to check in on your employee regularly, or make sure they keep you updated with their progress.
Keeping your business running
If it looks like your employee will be off work for a while, you may need to delegate tasks to other staff or look into hiring temporary staff to cover their work tasks. By keeping your employee’s job open, you’ll still have a fully trained staff member back on board after they’ve recovered.
Help get your employee back to work
The sooner your employee can come back to work the better. Even if they just start off part-time or help out with smaller jobs. It’s proven to help their physical and mental recovery when they’re active.
You can help us support their return to work promptly and safely in a few different ways.
Start the conversation
Start with early, open and regular communication with your employee. Sometimes starting a conversation like this can be hard for both you and your employee.
To help get you started, we’ve developed resources for supervisors and team leaders. These are to help when you talk with your employee about their injury, treatment, rehabilitation, and return to work.
We’ve also developed a resource to help your injured employees have this conversation with you. Give this to your employee prior to your conversation so they know what to expect.
You can encourage your injured employee to visit our ‘What to do if I’m injured’ page for information on what support we provide and how to manage their claim.
By using the resources along with the ideas below, you can help us support your employee’s return to work promptly and safely.
Let us know what your employee does
To plan your employee’s return to work, we need to know what they do as part of their job. If it’s available, send us a job description. This will give us a good idea what their day to day tasks involve (this can be the one you use for a job vacancy ad).
Get a workplace assessment done
Because every injury is different, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. We pay for and organise an external occupational therapist to come and assess your worksite.
The occupational therapist will contact you as soon as possible to organise a time that suits. They'll do the assessment at the worksite where your employee works and takes about an hour.
What comes out of the assessment
They’ll work with you and your employee to:
- get a clearer picture of the injury – what they can do safely and when they're likely to return to work
- find any barriers that could prevent their return to work
- write an individual return to work plan. This may include:
- reduced work hours
- alternative tasks or jobs
- travel options
- helping you make temporary modifications to the workplace
- communicate with you, your employee, their treatment providers and ACC.
Be involved in the assessment
So your needs are met and you’re happy with the plan, make sure there’s someone from your business on site to be part of the assessment.
Make modifications to your workplace
Allowing us to make simple changes and modifications to your workplace might mean your employee can get back to work sooner. This could be moving desks around, finding space to fit a footrest or getting a new office chair.
The occupational therapist can organise this after they’ve done a workplace assessment. If the changes are small, we can order the equipment and sort this out for you.
Helping them get around
If they’re struggling with mobility, you could help by organising an alternative parking space or a ground floor area to work on.
Adapt to your employee’s current needs
If your employee can’t do their regular job, they may still be able to contribute to your business in other ways while they recover. This means your employee can return to work at their own pace and sometimes earlier than planned. You can help your employee by adapting their work and:
- looking at other tasks they can help with while recovering
- allowing them to work fewer hours or alternative days
- finding ways they can work from home or at a different worksite that fits their needs
- letting other staff know about the situation and how they can help with some of the tasks.
We’ve developed a resource to help you get started.
Financial impact on your business
If an employee returns to work and can't do their regular tasks or hours, it may have a financial impact on your business.
We can offer abatement. This is where you can pay your employee for the work and hours they do compared to their regular role. We can then top up these payments.
Gradually returning through a work trial
A work trial is another way we can look at to help your employee gradually return back to work.
A work trial doesn’t cost you anything, as we’ll continue to pay their 80% income compensation. This means your employee can come back to work while they’re recovering without being a financial burden on your business.
If your employee has a long-term injury
Long-term injuries are often more complex to manage. It may be longer before your employee can return to work.
If you can't keep your employee's job open while they're recovering, talk to their recovery team. They'll discuss time-frames with you, and may suggest a face-to-face meeting. The meeting will be with you, your injured employee and a health care professional such as an occupational therapist.
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 original job. If medical opinion suggests your employee will never be able to return to their original 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.
If you have any questions, contact your employee’s recovery team or contact our claims team:
Phone 0800 101 996 (Monday to Friday, 7am - 7pm)