What does an Injured Worker expect from an Employer?
9 Apr, 2021, 9:32 AM
What Does an Injured Worker Expect from an Employer?
When a worker is injured at the workplace, the employer has certain obligations under workers compensation legislation in Australia. However, in addition to these legal obligations, employers can do several things to ensure the best possible outcome for the worker as well as their business. A proactive approach to supporting an injured employee can help prevent discontent and consequently the employee seeking legal recourse. It can also promote a return to work as promptly as possible.
Reasonable Expectations for Injured Employees
Employers in Australia are required to have workers compensation insurance. They must inform their employees about the legislation and educate them on how to make a claim if they are injured. Businesses are required to document a return to work plan describing the steps that need to be taken if a worker is injured. Employers must maintain a record of work-related injuries and notify the workers’ compensation insurer within 48 hours of an injury occurring. When a worker is injured, employers should participate in the injury management plan as outlined by the insurer. They should also provide suitable work upon return to work that is the same or equivalent to the work that was being done at the time of injury. These are not only reasonable expectations for workers but also legal requirements.
Ensuring Injured Workers Feel Supported
Besides legal requirements and reasonable expectations, offering support at the time of injury and throughout the recovery process can help make injured workers feel cared for. This will have a positive impact on the worker’s response to their injury, thereby reducing the chances of them taking legal action against the employer.
If a worker has been injured during the course of their employment duties, an employer can take the following steps to help the injured worker feel supported.
Avoid blaming the injured worker. This can be alienating and may prompt the worker to seek legal help. Rather, explore ways to improve safety and prevent such injuries in the future. Focus on helping the injured worker recover. This promotes a sense of kinship and fosters loyalty towards the employer.
A work injury can be isolating. Injured workers often feel like everyone at work has forgotten about them. These feelings can progress into anger or resentment and push an injured worker towards legal recourse against the employer. A good way to avoid this is by encouraging co-workers to stay in touch with an injured worker and keep them up-to-date on what’s going on at work. Such considerate behaviour from the employer and co-workers sends a positive message and can help speed up recovery and return to work.
Employers may be tempted to focus on a worker’s injury and recovery and sweep other unresolved issues under the carpet, such as conflicts with co-workers or transportation difficulties. However, if these issues are not addressed, they can become barriers that prevent an injured worker from returning to work. Dissatisfied workers are more likely to take legal action against an employer than workers whose issues are addressed proactively.
Last but not least, it’s important to have open communication with an injured worker. Employers should advise injured workers of everything they will do to aid their recovery. At the same time, employers should also advise an injured worker of their obligations. This helps set reasonable expectations on both sides and ensures both parties are equally involved in the recovery process.