Getting involved in return to work programs

After a workplace injury has occurred, your patient will be relying on you to provide treatment for the injury and advice about when they can return to work.

Research indicates returning to work as soon as medically appropriate is beneficial for an injured worker’s recovery. Equally, the more support your patient receives during their rehabilitation, the more likely they are to return to work sooner.

Although it is an employer’s responsibility to develop the return to work program, the treating medical practitioner has an equally important role in getting the patient back to meaningful work. The employer and worker will be relying on you to issue Certificates of Capacity which:

  • indicate the need for a return to work program
  • states whether the worker has partial or full capacity for work, and if they are able to return to their pre-injury position
  • sets out, and focuses on, what the worker can do by stating their physical capacity and hours they can work
  • refers the worker for vocational rehabilitation if it is anticipated they may face difficulties with returning to work.

The information contained in the Certificate of Capacity aids the patient’s employer in developing the return to work program and commencing return to work processes.

You can assist further by making it known you would like to be involved in developing the return to work program with your patient and their employer. You can do this by acknowledging it in the Certificate of Capacity.


Being involved in the process allows you to:

  • monitor progress and review outcomes
  • discuss the health benefits of safe work and emphasise that returning to work can be important part of recovery
  • communicate if, and when, your patient may benefit from additional assistance and specify what kind of services would be most beneficial
  • share information regularly with your patient and their employer (and insurer).

For more information about return to work programs, please visit WorkCover WA’s gpsupport site.

Page last updated: 9 January 2017 at 9:51 am