Getting back to work after an injury

We want to help you recover from your injury and get you back to work as soon as possible.

When you’re injured it can be good for you to keep doing some sort of work or your usual activities as part of your recovery.

On this page

    When you’re ready for work

    Your doctor will talk to you about your options and outline the activities and type of work that you can do with your injury. They may certify you as either ‘fit for selected work’ or ‘fully unfit’.

    If you’re fit for selected work

    When you give your medical certificate to your employer, use the information the doctor has provided to discuss what other suitable work duties are available. It could be for the same job or doing a different job with the same employer. If you’re unsure about doing this, contact us.

    Most employers are happy to discuss alternate duties and are happy to hold your role open and work with us to transition you back to work while you recover from injury.

    If you’re certified as fit for selected work for more than one week, we may ask an occupational therapist to meet with you and your employer to help identify suitable duties.

    'Fit for selected work' medical certification (ACC8212)

    How returning to work will help you and your recovery

    Research shows that the sooner you get back to work and everyday life, the better it is for your health, wellbeing, and recovery.

    Work is seen as an important part of rehabilitation given the key role it plays in many peoples’ lives. Keeping connected to work, and maintaining your income and work relationships are likely to help you recover more quickly.

    The research also tells us that that the longer you’re off work, the less likely it’s that you’ll ever return. Losing a job due to a long absence can have significant long-term implications for you and your whānau.

    If you’re fully unfit for work

    There are only a few instances when we expect a doctor to issue a medical certificate stating you're fully unfit for work:

    • you have a total inability to work, ie you're admitted to hospital
    • the risks of returning to work are excessive and the work environment poses a risk of serious harm to you
    • you can't travel to and from work – even with assistance.

    How we’ll support you

    We’ll support you with a workplace assessment. The workplace assessor will look at what you’ll need to get the job done and to keep you safe. This could be:

    Getting to and from work

    We can organise transport and cover costs to get you to and from work. This could be using a taxi or Uber instead of taking the bus, or having a friend drive you.

    Setting up your workstation

    We can sort out new or modified equipment and technology for you at work. This could be specialised chairs, voice recognition programmes, or altered benchtops.

    Checking-in on your recovery progress

    We’ll support you with a rehabilitation programme designed to help you recover from your injury while at work. Your recovery team will check-in regularly with you and your doctor to see how your recovery is going. We can update your rehabilitation plan to gradually increase your hours or tasks at work as you progress through your recovery.

    Weekly compensation for your income

    If you go back to work or do reduced hours or alternative duties, your employer can pay you for the productive hours. We can top up these wages with weekly compensation. As your hours and earnings increase, our payments will decrease. 

    If you are receiving income from both ACC and your employer when working reduced hours as part of your return to work, one of these income sources will need to be taxed as a secondary source of income. You may need to contact ACC or your employer to change your tax code. If you are unsure what your tax code should be then you should contact IRD.

    Weekly compensation

    Your rehabilitation plan

    If your injury is more complex and likely to affect you for more than 13 weeks, we’ll help you develop your own rehabilitation plan. Your recovery team will work with you, your doctor, and your employer. Your plan will include:

    • how we'll help get you back to your normal work hours
    • what support you'll need at work
    • when your rehabilitation is expected to be complete.

    You can also bring a support person who can help in planning your rehabilitation.

    How long we can support you

    We can support you until you're fit for work and ready for a job that suits your training and experience. This could be short term support or for a longer-term injury.

    You'll need to show us a medical certificate to confirm you can't work. Usually, you'll need to provide one every 13 weeks, or sooner depending on your situation.

    If you can’t go back to the same job

    If you can’t return to your old job because of your injury, we’ll help you to prepare for finding a new one that fits your situation.

    We can help by:

    Assessing your skills and work options

    We can look at your situation and assess what types of work would suit your skills, education, and experience. We'll also assess if you're medically fit to do these jobs. This will help us support you in reaching your goals.

    Getting you back into the job market

    We can help you:

    • re-enter the job market by finding the same type of job but with a new employer
    • help you look for and re-train in a different role that we identified as part of your assessment
    • put together a programme to regain your ability to work and build your confidence through work experience.

    Medical clearance

    If you've finished your rehabilitation and your doctor thinks you're ready to do your pre-injury work but you disagree, your recovery team may organise another assessment of your situation.

    If your assessment confirms you're fit for your pre-injury work and you disagree with this decision, find out what your next steps are and how to get a review.

    Sort out a problem with your claim

    Contact us

    If you have any problems or want to know more about how we can help, talk to your recovery team or contact our claims team:

    Phone 0800 101 996 (Monday to Friday, 7am - 7pm)

    Last published: 13 October 2021