TAC return to work
If you’ve been off work due to injury following a car accident, you’ve probably got a few questions regarding returning to work.
This page will outline what you know what you need to know in relation to a return to work.
When can you return to work?
This depends upon the opinion of your doctors.
Your doctors need to certify that you are able to return to work, either on a restricted basis or on an unrestricted basis which means a return to full pre injury employment.
For the purposes of your work capacity certification, the certificate of capacity is a very important document.
If you’ve been receipt of TAC income benefits for a period of time, you’ll be well aware as to what a TAC certificate of capacity looks like.
In relation to a possible return the work, you’ll see on page 2 of the certificate at the top there is a section for the medical practitioner to indicate what your capacity for work is.
The medical practitioner is asked to certify whether you have a capacity for full unrestricted work duties, modified duties or no duties at all.
So, in order to return to work after an accident, you should obtain from your medical practitioner a certificate of capacity that certifies you as having a capacity for some work.
If your medical practitioner is to certify you as having a capacity for some work with restrictions, the doctor needs to indicate what those restrictions are on the certificate.
For example, restrictions may be that you should not work full hours and should work perhaps a quarter of the hours that you normally would and work towards full-time employment.
Or restrictions may be to avoid lifting anything over 10 kg or avoid being on your feet for more than half an hour at a time.
There are a number of different possible restrictions that could be listed.
For the above reasons, it’s very important that your medical practitioners understand the work that you do, which includes making sure that they understand all of your duties that could potentially aggravate any injuries that you suffered in the accident so they can take these into account when certifying you.
Your medical practitioners (in addition to your employer) are the key people when it comes to considering a return to work after an accident.
If you think it’s appropriate, you can also organise for your employer to speak to your GP or physio or another person that has been treating you to discuss suitable duties and returning to work.
Return to work plans
In some cases the TAC may initiate a return to work program.
This can include a number of things.
They may organise for an assessment of the workplace to be conducted to see whether any modifications can be made or specialist equipment supplied to you.
The TAC may organise for a return to work specialist to assist you to return to work.
They may also in some cases organise for vocational rehabilitation services to be provided to people that cannot return to their old job because of an injury or injuries.
If you believe that you need assistance returning to work then it’s a good idea to contact the TAC and see whether there is any assistance they can provide to you.
Does the employer need to keep my job open for me?
Unfortunately, an employer is under no obligation to keep a job open for you if you are not able to work because of an injury suffered in a motor vehicle accident.
In relation to a WorkCover matter, if you suffered an injury and had an accepted WorkCover claim and you were unable to work, the employer would be obliged to offer you suitable duties for 52 weeks and if you could not work those suitable duties they would need to keep your job open for a minimum of 52 weeks.
Unfortunately, no such protection applies to those people that have a TAC claim.
However, this does not mean that an employer is just able to terminate an employee because they are not able to work following a motor vehicle accident.
Let’s say that you suffered an injury and you are unable to work for a period of time because of that injury.
If the employer was to terminate you, they should obtain medical material that comments on your ability to work and whether if there is a restriction on your ability to work, you might be able to return to unrestricted restricted duties in the future.
If the employer terminates you in circumstances that are harsh, unjust or unreasonable, you may be able to pursue an unfair dismissal application with the Fair Work Commission.
If you believe the dismissal is due to your injury and being away from work for a period of time, you may also be able to pursue what’s called a general protections application also through the Fair Work Commission.
If it appears that your employer is looking to terminate your employment after an accident, you should get legal advice as soon as possible.
What impact will a return to work have on TAC entitlements?
Returning to work will not impact your entitlement to the payment of medical and like expenses.
Whether that means GP attendances, physiotherapy treatment, medication or something else.
Your entitlement to the payment of income payments will cease if you have returned to full time employment earning what you were earning prior to the accident.
If you however are only able to return and work limited hours, you may be entitled to top up pay from the TAC and you should speak to your lawyer or alternatively the TAC if this applies to you.
In relation to an impairment benefit lump sum claim, returning to work will not have any impact on either your entitlement to claim an impairment benefit or the amount that you will be entitled to claim under this claim.
In relation to a common law lump sum claim, returning to work will not prevent you from pursuing a claim however it may impact what you can claim.
You can be compensated for two things under a common law claim. The first is pain suffering in the second is loss of earnings.
Obviously, if you return to work, the amount that you can claim by way of loss of earnings will be reduced both to the date that you settle the common law claim and also the fact that you have returned to work will be factored in to any potential loss of earnings in the future.
In order to return to work after a car accident you should be guided by your treating medical practitioners.
You should be certified on your certificate of capacity as being okay to return to work, whether that means being certified as having a capacity for modified duties or a capacity for full duties.
The TAC is in some cases able to assist people that have been involved in car accidents to return to work.
Returning to work will mean that if you return to full time employment earning what you were earning prior to the accident you will not be entitled to income payments from the TAC, however your entitlement to medical expenses and an impairment benefit will be unaffected by your return to work.
A common law claim may be impacted in that your return to work will be factored in to calculations regarding any loss of earnings.