Articles

2013 Return to Work Survey: national results

RTWMatters team

We review the past year's trends in RTW

The 2013 Return to Work Survey provides information about return to work results across Australia and New Zealand.

The Return to Work Monitor started in 1993 in Victoria. Various jurisdictions have participated in the monitor.  Some have participated every year, some for selected years, and other jurisdictions have never participated. Until 2012 the Return to Work Monitor was coordinated by the Heads of Workers Compensation Authorities. The Return to Work Monitor included about 30 questions of injured employees, to gain insight into return to work rates and factors that influence return to work.

In 2013 Return to Work Monitor transitioned to become the Return to Work Survey. Responsibility for survey passed from Heads of Workers Compensation Authorities to SafeWork Australia. The company contracted to complete the survey also changed. The 2013 survey has been prepared by the Social Research Centre.

The Return to Work Monitor surveyed approximately 2000 injured workers across Australia and New Zealand, via a telephone survey conducted 7 to 9 months after they lodged a claim.

The 2013 Return to Work Survey includes Western Australia for the first time. However the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory have not taken part in the 2013 survey. We have not included Seacare in our analysis because of the low sample size and the unusual nature of the jurisdiction (seafarers generally need to be able to return to their full job).

In earlier years, responses to all questions were included in the Return to Work Monitor report. The 2013 results from SafeWork Australia will be shared through a series of reports. The first report includes headline measures only, that is, return to work rates.

In the 2013 survey close to 5000 telephone interviews were conducted. However many of these people had injuries dating back one to two years. To allow comparison of this year’s results to earlier results, only those who had an injury and lodged claims 7 to 9 months before the 2013 survey were included. This allows an "apples with apples" comparison of return to work rates.

As with previous RTWMatters publications on the return to work results, we have extracted data from the surveys and analysed the results by jurisdiction. The Return to Work Monitor and Survey reports provide national trends over time, but only one year of results for each. Our analysis provides trends by jurisdiction.

RTWMatters will continue to review SafeWork Australia reports on return to work as they become available over the remainder of 2013.