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9.13.2 Preparing to return to work
Streamlined Access to Incapacity Payments is designed to support clients who are in the process of accepting an offer of employment and preparing to return to work. The policy can provide clients with confidence they can attempt a return to employment with full rehabilitation support, and if they not successful, their incapacity payments can be reinstated.
It is expected that Rehabilitation Providers and clients will work together to ensure that there is a good match between the client’s needs, skills, expectations and experience and the job that they have been offered. This will provide the client with the best possible opportunity to be successful in returning to sustainable employment. While this is a business as usual approach for any client who is participating in a vocational rehabilitation plan, it is recognised that mental health issues have the potential to create greater difficulties for clients, resulting in hesitancy regarding their return to employment. Issues that should be worked through before returning to work include (but are not limited to):
- from the client’s point of view:
- attitude to their employer e.g. are there trust issues, how health literate the employer is;
- ability to perform work tasks and develop skills to enable them to fulfil their work role including understanding what is required from the employer’s perspective;
- understanding how receiving an income will impact on their financial situation
- planning what steps need to be taken if they need to modify/leave work;
- potential impact of any changes in the their condition(s) and health management;
- health and safety risk for the client and/or their workmates,
- ability to schedule and attend medical appointments around work commitments (where possible, to reduce the impact on the employer), and
- difficulty managing the change in routine.
- pertaining to employers;
- expectations of the client e.g. are they aware of how military culture can impact on the person’s interactions in a work place;
- willingness to provide reasonable adjustments to the workplace for the client;
- willingness to train and lead the client where new skills are needed, and
- ability to explain when expectations are not being met.
It is expected that if any of these issues are concerning the client prior to commencing new employment, the client and the Rehabilitation Provider will work together to develop management strategies. Undertaking this process may help to resolve whether a particular job is a suitable option, or whether it may be better for the client to be looking for an alternate role or employer.
In addition to potential difficulties, the range of benefits should also be discussed, including:
- a feeling of empowerment in developing new skills and knowledge;
- improved relationships and interactions;
- improving self-confidence;
- improving financial security, and
- understanding health management in a whole-of-life perspective, rather than an injury-focus.