2 December 2019 Comcare - Participating in Rehabilitation Programme - Fact Sheet
Comcare (or a relevant licensee) may from time to time, direct an employee to participate in an internal rehabilitation program or to a rehabilitation program operated by an external providers. The purpose of an occupational rehabilitation program is to support employees to maintain work, return to work or to acquire new employment.
There may be a degree of apprehension when receiving a notice to participate in a rehabilitation program, especially where an employee is receiving worker’s compensation benefits under the Comcare scheme. This fact sheet will endeavour to answer workers’ frequently asked questions:
Do I need to participate in the rehabilitation program?
An injured worker is generally required to undertake a rehabilitation program pursuant to s36 of the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (SRCA).
It is important to ensure that the rehabilitation program does not aggravate existing injuries and is consistent with any work restrictions.
If a worker feels that he/she is unable to participate in the program, a letter from their GP stating that they do not have capacity to participate and giving reasons, should provide Comcare with sufficient reasoning to excuse participation.
If I choose not to participate, will my Comcare entitlements cease?
If a worker fails to participate in a rehabilitation programme without reasonable excuse, the worker’s entitlement to compensation benefits (save for medical and like expenses) will cease until such time as the assessment takes place. A letter from the GP or specialist is the best safeguard against Comcare issuing a notice suspending Comcare benefits.
In the event where Comcare has suspended liability, an employee can still challenge the notice or determination by requesting a reconsideration. A union representative or legal advisor will be able to assist in drafting the request.
Is Comcare trying to shift me to another employer?
Although it may seem that Comcare is trying to gently coax a worker into another role, it is acting within its rights in requiring injured workers to participate in a rehabilitation program.
However, in the unlikely event that a complete change of employment is proposed, pursuant to s40 of the SRCA, Comcare must first show that it has taken all reasonable steps to provide suitable employment with the employer and/or assist the employee to find suitable employment outside of the organisation.
In our experience, it is difficult to find employers who are prepared to take on another organisations’ injured workers.
Will my Comcare entitlements continue if I do change employer?
Yes, an employee’s Comcare entitlements will continue, if the work-related injury continues to cause incapacity and requires ongoing medical treatment.
If you have received a notice to partake in a rehabilitation program, please do not hesitate to seek advice in a free consultation with Angela Sdrinis Legal.