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    2021 National Return to Work Survey Report Findings

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    Every two years, Safe Work Australia conducts and releases the National Return to Work Survey. The survey measures the impact of ill and injured workers receiving workers’ compensation. The objective is to gain a better understanding of their lived experiences and the factors that may influence a workers Return to Work.

    Read the full report here

    This report was released in February 2021 and is the fifth instalment surveying 4,588 people across Australia from all major industries. According to Michelle Baxter, Chief Executive Officer, Safe Work Australia (SWA) - “More than half a million Australians sustain a work-related injury or illness each year. The National Return to Work Strategy 2020-2030, outlines 5 key Action Areas to minimise the impact of injury and illness, and enable a safe, durable and timely return to work experience for workers”. 

    The outcome from this survey provides SWA with a significant contribution to the evidence that guides the delivery of the Strategy and provides valuable insights to workers’ compensation authorities and other key stakeholders across Australia.

    Data is analysed through the following categories:

    1. Injury type:
    • Fractures
    • Musculoskeletal Disorders 
    • Other Trauma
    • Mental Illness
    • Other Diseases
    2. Factors
    • personal factors (biological characteristics, psychological and behavioural factors, and social relationships)
    • workplace factors (working environment, work relationships, work design and its ergonomic impacts, support systems)
    • health care factors (treatment and rehabilitation services provided to workers through the healthcare system and how these are facilitated and delivered by a range of medical professionals) 
    • legislative and insurance scheme factors (claims agents, insurers, regulatory authorities, and other government and non-government agencies) 

    The National Return to Work Survey measures outcomes of ill and injured workers receiving workers’ compensation to better understand their experiences and factors that may influence their return to work.

    Summary - 5 points 

    1. Reduced financial distress. 24.7% of workers surveyed reported experiencing relatively high levels of financial distress (7 or above out of 10, where 1 is not at all stressed and 10 is as stressed as one can be), which was significantly lower than the 28.6% in 2018. 

    2. Employer interactions are generally positive. Most workers reported receiving contact from their employer about their recovery (63.4%) and/or a RTW coordinator (57.3%), with only a small proportion (14.1%) of those who were contacted by a RTW coordinator reporting their interactions were stressful (consistent with previous years). 

    3. Unsuccessful RTW attempts continue to increase. Despite steady headline measures, 2021 continued to see a significant increase in the proportion of unsuccessful RTW attempts (those who had to take additional time off since returning to work due to their work-related injury or illness), at 25.2% (compared to 19.6% in 2018, which was also significantly higher than the 15.9% seen in 2016). 

    4. Perceptions of employer support have reduced since 2018. There were significant declines in 2021 across all six statements, which measure employer support (61.0% to 74.4%) compared to 2018 (65.2% to 79.5%).
    5. Extent to which COVID-19 affected recovery and RTW - 2021 (%)
      1. Not much at all = 78.2%
      2. A great deal + Somewhat = 20.2%

    About Lucidity Return to Work

    Lucidity Return to Work (RTW) is a complete end-to-end system, enabling businesses to easily manage the process of returning injured employees back to work. In one central location, Lucidity RTW records a range of information about the injury, logs medical certificates, creates Return to Work plans and notifies the coordinator of upcoming critical dates.