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9.9.2 How to arrange a Work Trial

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Last amended 
29 May 2017

Arranging the work trial

The rehabilitation service provider is responsible for arranging and monitoring a work trial for the client.  This includes ensuring that the work trial is appropriate given the client's medical restrictions and the type of work that they will be undertaking, and negotiating the terms of the work trial, including liaison with the relevant union if necessary. Once a work trial is negotiated with a host, the provider will need to liaise with the client's treating health practitioner to confirm the suitability of the work trial and receive confirmation of any medical restrictions that will apply. The rehabilitation service provider will then submit the work trial details, together with the completed Work Trial Agreement form to the DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator for consideration and approval.

The provider will also need to consider if any aids, appliances or alterations might be required to support the client. This includes visiting the host prior to the commencement of the placement to ensure the supervisor has been provided with an outline of the work capabilities of the client, and that the work site is suitable.

Work Trial Agreement

Work trials should be fully documented using the Work Trial Agreement prior to the commencement of the trial. Rehabilitation Coordinators can access the manual from the rehabilitation pages of the Rehabilitation and Compensation Support site rehabilitation pages under "Work Trials".

The Work Trial Agreement outlines the responsibilities of the employer, the client, DVA and the rehabilitation service provider. The agreement also incorporates specific details of the placement including duties, medical restrictions, and timings. It is important that all relevant medical restrictions are listed to ensure that the employer can effectively manage their work health and safety responsibilities.

The Work Trial Agreement is designed to ensure that all parties are committed to the aim of the placement and agree on the expected outcomes from the placement.

The key stakeholders in the work trial process include the client, DVA rehabilitation coordinator, rehabilitation service provider, the client's treating doctor, supervisor/host employer, and the relevant union (if appropriate).

Work Trial Insurance Manual

The client must be provided with a copy of the Work Trial Insurance Manual prior to the work trial commencing. DVA Rehabilitation Coordinators can access the manual from the rehabilitation pages of the Rehabilitation and Compensation Support site rehabilitation pages under "Work Trials". 

The Manual details the insurance arrangements for clients undertaking an authorised work trial. Please refer to section 9.9.4 of this Guide for further information about insurance for work trials.

The client must also be informed about what they need to do if they injure themselves, or experience an increase in pain or symptoms which does not allow them to continue working. If this occurs the client should:

  • immediately report to his/her supervisor and inform them that they are experiencing difficulties; and
  • document exactly what task was being undertaken at the time the pain or symptoms occured; and
  • immediately telephone their rehabilitation service provider to report the problem.

Approval of the work trial

From 29 May 2017, all new work trials must be managed in R&C ISH using the work trials function outlined in the Delegate Step by Step Guide in CLIK. Please refer to Chapter 9 of the Rehabilitation Procedures Guide for specific guidelines for recording work trials.

The DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator should check the work trial details, and ensure that the medical restrictions are listed so that they can ensure a safe working environment for the client. This also helps to provide confidence that the worker will continue to be suitable for their role if their employment continues beyond the work trial. The Rehabilitation Coordinator must also check the Work Trial Agreement to ensure that the employer, client and provider have signed the agreement.

Once the Rehabilitation Coordinator is satisfied that all relevant details are included on the form, and that the work trial is suitable for the client, they should sign the agreement and send a signed copy to the rehabilitation service provider. The Rehabilitation Coordinator's signature provides evidence of their approval/authorisation of the work trial.

The Rehabilitation Coordinator must advise any relevant DVA areas, particularly the client's incapacity delegate, of the detail of the work trial. R&C ISH will create a task for the incapacity team when a work trial is approved. A copy of the signed Work Trial Agreement must be uploaded as a document to the client's R&C ISH case.

Monitoring a work trial

The rehabilitation service provider must ensure that the client completes and submits a Work Trial Attendance Diary to them. These diaries must show the dates and hours worked and are to be signed by the client and their work trial supervisor. Rehabilitation Coordinators can access the diary through the Rehabilitation and Compensation Support site rehabilitation pages under "Work Trials".

Work trial diaries should be uploaded by the rehabilitation provider, electronically to the R&C ISH case on a fortnightly basis. Documents uploaded to R&C ISH will be saved in the client's TRIM filde and flagged as new information in R&C ISH.

To upload to R&C ISH, the DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator will need to send the rehabilitation provider an email with information about how to upload R&C ISH and the Transaction Reference Number (TRN) to be used for the individual client. Any follow-up items or recommendations from the progress report need to recorded and actioned in R&C ISH.

If the client is in receipt of incapacity benefits, the Rehabilitation Coordinator must ensure the client’s incapacity delegate is aware of the work trial diaries so that the client's incapacity payments can be assessed correctly. R&C ISH will create a task for the incapacity team when a work trial diary is received. Similarly, the incapacity delegate must be kept informed of any variations to the work trial in terms of the hours worked.

During a work trial the client is required to attend the workplace as instructed by the host and undertake the work to the best of his ability. 

The rehabilitation service provider is responsible for closely monitoring the work trial to ensure that:

  • any identified issues are addressed promptly; and
  • the goals of the placement are being met; and
  • the client is working within the return to work medical guidelines obtained from the treating doctor.

The rehabilitation service provider must ensure that the DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator is provided with progress reports about how the work trial is going and is made aware of any issues that arise. This is important as the DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator has overall responsibility for the outcome of the work trial.

The host will be expected to have similar expectations of a client in a work trial as for any other worker regarding attendance, behaviour, safety, and discipline.  The supervisor should be encouraged to develop an on-the-job training program that enables the client to acquire the competencies and skills required for the job.  The supervisor should also monitor how the client is progressing, assess their performance and provide feedback to the client and the rehabilitation provider.  Ultimately the supervisor will be required to provide a report on the client's performance to the rehabilitation provider.

Formal training aimed at enhancing both personal and job specific skills should be assessed as an adjunct to the on-the-job training that may take place during the work trial.

What happens if an injury occurs during a work trial

The rehabilitation provider must inform the Rehabilitation Coordinator immediately if they become aware that the client has injured themselves during a work trial, or is experiencing an increase in pain or symptoms.

The Rehabilitation Coordinator must follow the steps outlined in section 9.9.4 of this Guide and the Work Trial Insurance documentation, and submit all claims within a timely manner.

After the work trial

If the host makes a job offer subsequent to the work trial, the rehabilitation service provider should ensure that the wages payable and conditions of employment are in accordance with the relevant award or Industrial Relations Agreement in that work setting. 

The rehabilitation service provider should then immediately contact the Rehabilitation Coordinator to confirm the details including start date, hours of employment and salary details. 

The Rehabilitation Coordinator must ensure that the client’s incapacity delegate is informed immediately that the work trial has ceased and that the delegate is provided with all relevant details of the client’s ongoing employment.

If the client is not offered work with the host after the trial, the client's rehabilitation plan should be amended to identify goals and objectives that can build on the work skills and experience that the client has gained during the trial. It is important that his occurs as quickly as possible, to assist the client to focus on what they have achieved, and to continue to work towards their return to work goal in a positive way.