Australia & New Zealand. Return to Work Monitor 2011/12. Heads of Workers Compensation Authorities

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1 Australia & New Zealand Return to Work Monitor 2011/12 Prepared for Heads of Workers Compensation Authorities July 2012 SUITE 3, QUEENS PDE PO BOX 441, CLIFTON HILL, VICTORIA 3068 PHONE ABN w w w. c a m p b e l l r e s e a r c h. c o m. a u

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3 TABLE OF CONTENTS Executive Summary... i 1. Background to the RTW Monitor Return to Work Outcome Indicators RTW rate Durable RTW rate Non-durable RTW and No RTW Length of time back at work Income sources Employment and duties RTW Process indicators Workplace culture Making a claim Previous claim experience Reasons for RTW Reasons for not working RTW plan RTW timing and duties Partial RTW Returned to previous hours Summary of RTW process measures at time of RTW Sources of assistance with RTW Rating of customer service by insurer/ Scheme Demographic and claim characteristics Summary of differences Appendix A: Background Appendix B: Methodology Appendix C: Reporting Conventions Appendix D: Detail of agreement measures Appendix E: Terms and Definitions Appendix F: CATI Questionnaire (Flow Chart) INDEX OF FIGURES INDEX OF TABLES

4 Please note that, in accordance with our Company s policy, we are obliged to advise that neither the Company nor any member nor employee undertakes responsibility in any way whatsoever to any person or organisation (other than Heads of Workers Compensation Authorities) in respect of information set out in this report, including any errors or omissions therein, arising through negligence or otherwise however caused. 3

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6 Executive Summary Context This is the fifteenth annual report of the Return to Work (RTW) Monitor. The report presents the results of a survey of injured workers conducted in November 2011 and May The results provide Comparative Performance Indicators for RTW to the (HWCA). The RTW Monitor reports the results of a survey of injured workers who have been paid 10 or more days compensation and submitted a claim seven to nine months prior to either of the two survey periods (November and May). Injured workers employed by organisations, which are self-insured, are not included in this report. This report includes trends over time at the national Australian level and comparisons with New Zealand and individual jurisdictions for 2011/12. Detailed trends for New Zealand and other participating Australian jurisdictions are reported separately. Highlights for 2011/12 This section presents the headline measures for Australia and New Zealand. Measurable differences, between Australia and New Zealand are presented in the Jurisdiction comparisons section below. RTW outcome indicators The Australian national RTW rate was The New Zealand RTW rate was 88. The durable RTW rate for Australia was 75. It has increased since 2008/09 when it was 72. The New Zealand durable RTW rate was 80, higher than the Australian rate (75). 67 of Australian injured workers who returned to work were working for the same employer and doing the same duties, while 18 of Australian injured workers were working for the same employer but doing different duties. o 6 changed employer while doing the same duties, while 9 were doing different duties with a different employer. 1 Differences between jurisdictions are only reported if they are statistically significant at the 95 confidence level. Trends over time are noted when they occur for three or more years, even when the differences are not statistically significant. i

7 77 of New Zealand injured workers who returned to work were working for the same employer and doing the same duties. o 5 of in New Zealand injured workers changed employer and were doing the same duties, while 10 were doing different duties with a different employer. Compensation payments 25 of Australian injured workers were aware of receiving some form of weekly compensation payments at the time of interview. 15 of injured workers in New Zealand reported receiving weekly compensation payments at interview. Reasons for RTW Recovery from injury (52), wanting to return to work (38) and economic need (35) were the most commonly mentioned reasons given by injured workers for RTW by Australian injured workers. 53 of New Zealand injured workers who had returned to work mentioned recovery from injury, 43 mentioned economic need and 40 mentioned they wanted to RTW. Not working at time of interview 25 of Australian injured workers reported not working at the time of the interview, similar to 23 in 2010/ of New Zealand injured workers reported not working at the time of the survey. Reasons for not returning to work Seven in ten (70) mentioned injury related reason for not working, with 54 identifying still being injured (from their original injury). In New Zealand 62 of injured workers mentioned injury related reasons for not working with 53 mentioning still injured. Injured workers who have not returned to work are more likely to mention their injury (78) compared to those with a non-durable RTW (56). Injured workers with a non-durable RTW are more likely to mention they have left employment (32) compared to those who have not returned to work (15). ii

8 The process of RTW Just over half the Australian (53) but fewer New Zealand (40) injured workers were aware of a RTW or rehabilitation plan. o o o o 80 were involved in the plan (87 in New Zealand); 76 found the plan to be helpful (74 in New Zealand); 58 were given help to follow the plan (58 in New Zealand); and Someone from work (31) or a rehabilitation provider (17) was most commonly identified as being the most helpful with the RTW plan (17 and 19 in New Zealand). 76 felt ready to return to work in both Australia and New Zealand. 84 felt their duties were suitable when they returned to work (75 in New Zealand). 76 changed duties when they returned to work (60 in New Zealand). 25 were still receiving workers compensation payments at RTW, an indicator of a partial RTW (22 in New Zealand). 51 returned to their pre-injury hours (64 in New Zealand). Doctors (20) and physiotherapists (19) and someone from work (16) were identified as being the most helpful in Australia (physiotherapists (27) doctors (12) and someone form work (12) in New Zealand). iii

9 Jurisdiction comparisons In 2011/12, a number of jurisdictions were different to the Australian national average: 2 RTW rate o o New Zealand (88) was higher than the Australian national average of 84. South Australia (77) and Seacare (74) were lower than the Australian national average of 84. Durable RTW rate o o New Zealand (80) was higher than the Australian national average of 75. South Australia (66) and Seacare (60) were lower than the Australian national average of 75. Receiving compensation payments at interview o o South Australia (42) and Comcare (36) had a higher rate of compensation payments at the time of the interview compared to the Australian national average of 25. New Zealand (15) had a lower rate of compensation payments at the time of the interview compared to the Australian national average of 25. New Zealand injured workers had a higher rate of returning to the same employers and doing the same duties (77) than the Australian rate (67). Trends over time Outcome indicators For Australia, the RTW rate has remained steady 3 for the past six years and the durable RTW rate has been steady for the past five years. For New Zealand, the RTW rate has increased since 2008/09 when it was 83. The durable RTW rate has increased since 2008/09 when it was Refer to Table 17 for a comparison of jurisdiction results against the Australian national results for measures. Steady means there are no differences that are statistically significant at the 95 confidence level. iv

10 Process Indicators A number of process indicators in the RTW Monitor have shown change over time. The proportion identifying recovery from injury 52 as the reason for RTW has declined since 2008/09 (57). There has been a consistent increase in RTW plans being reported over the course of the RTW Monitor. In 1997/98, 38 of injured workers reported RTW plans. This year 53 of injured workers reported having a RTW plan developed for them. Engagement with other stakeholders during the RTW process has been identified as an enabler of RTW when helpful and as a barrier to RTW when unhelpful: Help from a person in the workplace has been identified as having a strong association with higher RTW and durable RTW rates. When any stakeholder was identified as a person who made it harder to RTW, a lower durable RTW outcome was achieved. The association between employer support and higher durable RTW outcomes has been consistent over the course of the Monitor. The length of durable RTW is an indicator of early RTW. The length of durable RTW has declined over time. In 2003/04, the average length of durable RTW was calculated to be 159 calendar days, while in 2011/12 the average length of durable RTW reduced to 149 days. This suggests that injured workers are taking longer to RTW than a decade ago. Partial RTW is an important strategy that can assist some injured workers to return to their pre-injury employment status. It is also referred to as a graduated RTW and includes reduced hours. In the RTW Monitor partial RTW is measured by income sources. Injured workers receiving income from workers compensation payments as well as wages or salary is an indicator of partial RTW. The proportion of injured workers receiving income from employment and workers compensation payments at RTW has increased. In the first wave of the RTW Monitor (1997/98), 19 of injured workers were identified as having a partial RTW. In the most recent wave, this proportion was 25. Early in the Monitor, 60 of injured workers, who had returned to work, reported returning to their pre-injury hours. In this report, the proportion returning to their pre-injury hours has fallen to 51. Partial RTW has been demonstrated to be temporary with the partial RTW rate at RTW (25) falling by the time in interview (14). v

11 The rating of insurance type services has improved over the course of the RTW Monitor. The main increase occurred in the first 10 years, with the average rating increasing from 3.1 in 1997/98 (on a five point scale where 5 is the highest score) to 3.6 in 2006/07. The rating has remained steady since 2006/07. vi

12 1. Background to the RTW Monitor Compensation for work-related injuries in Australia falls under the jurisdiction of the eight States and Territories. 4 In addition, three schemes under the jurisdiction of the Australian Government are administered through Comcare, Seacare and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In New Zealand, compensation for work related injuries is part of a broader compensation scheme for all injuries including transport accident, sporting and domestic injuries. The Workplace Relations Ministers Council (WRMC), previously the Labour Ministers Council, released the first Comparative Performance Monitoring (CPM) report in December The CPM project includes reporting of performance measures for key domains of the Australian and New Zealand workplace safety and compensation systems. These domains are: Occupational health and safety, which includes incidence of injuries and fatalities. Workers compensation including premium, scheme costs and disbursements and level of benefits. Return to work. RTW and the durability of RTW are key performance indicators (KPIs) for workers compensation systems and are included as part of the workers compensation scheme performance 5 section of the CPM Report. RTW is an indicator of successful outcome and, in most cases, a resolution of a claim from the point of view of all key stakeholders the injured worker, the employer, the insurer or claims agent, and the Authority responsible for overseeing the workers compensation scheme. RTW is a process that engages all stakeholders. As an outcome, RTW is measured in some form or other by all workers compensation systems. However, most measures rely upon claim-based information. They do not provide information after the claim is closed and seldom provide reliable information about the durability of RTW. 4 5 See Safe Work Australia (2011) Comparison of Workers Compensation Arrangements Australia and New Zealand 2010 for a concise history of Australian and New Zealand schemes and a detailed comparison of current legislative and administrative arrangements. Safe Work Australia (2011) Comparative Performance Monitoring Report: Comparison of work health and safety and workers compensation schemes in Australia and New Zealand Twelfth Edition December

13 The Victorian WorkCover Authority (now WorkSafe Victoria) commissioned a survey of injured workers in 1993 to measure RTW outcomes beyond the claim closure. The focus of the survey was the injured worker. By using a sample of claims from a specific sampling period, and identifying the work status of the injured worker at the time of interview, an indicator of durable RTW outcomes independent to claim status was developed. The sample has focused on injured workers with more serious injuries. Ten or more days compensation paid was selected. This facilitated the focus of the survey on that group of injured workers with serious injuries who were at risk of becoming longer-term claimants. The survey provided, from the perspective of the injured worker, indicators of RTW outcomes and processes used to achieve those outcomes that were not otherwise available, including: Durability of RTW. Reasons for returning to work. The extent to which injured workers report suitable duties being provided to assist their RTW. The reasons for unsuccessful RTW. The extent to which key stakeholders (doctors, employers, insurers, etc.) are perceived to help or hinder RTW. A rating of the services provided by insurers (or Schemes). In May 1997, the Promoting Excellence: National Consistency in Australian Workers Compensation recommended a nationally consistent approach to workers compensation. The RTW Monitor was identified by the Ministers of Workplace Relations Advisory Committee Comparative Performance Monitoring project as the key measure for RTW outcomes. The first national RTW Monitor report was published in May 1998 following surveys in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory. Since that time, the Australian Capital Territory, Comcare, Seacare and New Zealand have participated in the RTW Monitor. The RTW Monitor s objectives are to: Maintain an Australian benchmark for measuring indicators of RTW outcomes and processes that are used to achieve those outcomes across workers compensation jurisdictions. Monitor RTW outcome indicators and processes used to achieve those outcomes over time and across workers compensation jurisdictions. 2

14 Separate surveys for self-insurers and for public sector agencies have been conducted. Self-insurer results are not included in the National RTW Monitor report, which is published through the. 6 This report provides indicators of outcomes six to nine months after a claim. Injured workers in this report are defined as those who have had a work related injury for which they have had 10 or more day s compensation paid. Many of the participating jurisdictions provide Performance Indicators through their annual reporting, which include shorter term (less than 10 days compensation paid) and longer term (longer than nine months) claims. This report has focused on more serious claims before they become longer term. The measures reported in this section provide an indicator of outcome. In some instances outcomes are not finalised for a considerable time after the measures. 6 See 3

15 2. Return to Work Outcome Indicators 2.1 RTW rate The RTW rate is the proportion of injured workers who had returned to work at any time in the period between submitting their claim and the time of interview. In 2011/12, over eight in ten Australian (84) and New Zealand (88) injured workers returned to work (Figure 1). 7 The RTW rate was higher for New Zealand (88) injured workers. The RTW rate was lower for South Australian injured workers (77) and Seacare (74) compared to the Australian national average. The RTW rate has been stable for the past seven years (Figure 2). Figure 1: RTW rate Figure 2: RTW rate (Trend) Q3. Would you please tell me whether you have returned to work at all since you put in your workers compensation claim? Australian Rate - 84 Returned to work Returned to work NSW VIC QLD SA TAS NT COM SEA NZ 0 Base: All respondents Base: All respondents NSW=600 QLD=600 TAS=390 COM=248 NZ=600 97/98=2,906 01/02=3,142 05/06=3,014 09/10=2,689 VIC=602 SA=400 NT=120 SEA=91 98/99=3,095 02/03=2,966 06/07=3,019 10/11=3,007 99/00=3,219 03/04=2,687 07/08=3,017 11/12=3,028 00/01=3,195 04/05=2,995 08/09=2, of Australian injured workers had returned to work. 7 Please refer to Appendix C: Reporting Conventions (page 100), for details of how to read this report. 4

16 2.2 Durable RTW rate The durable RTW rate is the proportion of injured workers who had returned to work and were still working at the time of interview. The durable RTW is an indicator of RTW outcome. 8 In 2011/12, three in four (75) Australian injured workers and four in five (80) New Zealand injured workers had a durable RTW (Figure 3). The durable RTW rates in South Australia (66) and Seacare (60) were lower than the Australian national rate. The Australian durable RTW in 2011/12 is not statistically significantly different (Figure 4) to that recorded in the previous five years. Figure 3: Durable RTW rate Q8. Are you currently working in a paid job? Figure 4: Durable RTW rate (Trend) Australian Rate - 75 Currently in a paid job NSW VIC QLD SA TAS NT COM SEA NZ Base: All respondents Base: All respondents NSW=600 QLD=600 TAS=390 COM=225 NZ=600 97/98=2,906 01/02=3,142 05/06=3,014 09/10=2,689 VIC=602 SA=400 NT=120 SEA=91 98/99=3,095 02/03=2,966 06/07=3,019 10/11=3,007 99/00=3,219 03/04=2,687 07/08=3,017 11/12=3,028 00/01=3,195 04/05=2,995 08/09=2, of Australian injured workers had a durable RTW. 8 Outcomes may not be finalised for some time after the survey measures were taken. measure is an indicator of RTW outcome. Safe Work Australia have recently adopted the term RTW at the time of interview for durable RTW as used in the reports of the RTW Monitor. The 5

17 2.3 Non-durable RTW and No RTW The non-durable RTW rate is the proportion of injured workers who had returned to work, but were not working at the time of interview. The no RTW rate is the proportion of injured workers who had not returned to work at all between the time of the claim and the time of the interview. The proportion of injured workers not working at the time of the interview comprises the sum of the non-durable RTW rate and the no RTW rate (Figure 5). In 2011/12, one in four (25) Australian injured workers were not working at the time of interview: 16 had not returned to work since their injury; and 9 had a non-durable RTW. In New Zealand, one in four (20) injured workers were not working at the time of interview (Figure 6): 12 had not returned to work since their injury; and 8 had a non-durable RTW. Figure 5: RTW status at interview for Australia Figure 6: RTW status at interview for NZ Q3. Would you please tell me whether you have returned to work at all since you put in your worker s compensation claim? Q8. Are you currently working in a paid job? Total Sample 100 Total Sample 100 Durable RTW 75 Non-durable RTW 9 No RTW 16 Durable RTW 80 Non-durable RTW 8 No RTW not working 20 not working Base: All respondents Base: All respondents Australia=3,028 NZ=600 New Zealand had a higher durable RTW and a lower no RTW rate than Australia, but there was no difference in the non-durable RTW. 6

18 The non-durable RTW rate and no RTW rate have been stable over the past three years (Figure 7). Figure 7: Durable, non-durable and no RTW rates - Australia 100 Durable Non-Durable No RTW Base: All respondents 97/98=2,906 00/01=3,195 03/04=2,687 06/07=3,019 09/10=2,689 98/99=3,095 01/02=3,142 04/05=2,995 07/08=3,017 10/11=3,007 99/00=3,219 02/03=2,966 05/06=3,014 08/09=2,965 11/12=3, Length of time back at work This section of the report examines the length of time injured workers reported being back at work. These results can be compared with Scheme based data such as the number of days compensation paid (claim closure rates) and claim cost. It should be noted, however, that Scheme based measures are different to those contained within the RTW Monitor. For example, the Scheme based data provides estimates of the time away from work, while the RTW Monitor provides estimates of the amount of time at work. Injured workers can report the time back at work in days, weeks or months. Weeks and months are converted to days to facilitate consistency in reporting. Time back at work indicates how substantive an injured worker s RTW has been. RTW is considered to be substantive when an injured worker has been back at work for at least two months. Results obtained through the RTW Monitor suggest that even when a RTW outcome has not been sustained, the RTW attempt is usually substantive in that the injured worker had returned to work for a considerable period. 7

19 2.4.1 Length of time back at RTW Injured workers who had returned to work and were still working at the time of the interview were asked to estimate how long they had been back at work. (Reasons for returning to work are reported in Section 3.5). The longer an injured worker has been back at work the earlier the RTW. The national mean length of time back at work for injured workers who were working at the time of interview was 149 days (Figure 8). The mean length of time back at work declined from the peak in 2003/04 (159 days) to 141 days in 2008/09. Changes since 2008/09 have not been statistically significant (Figure 9). Injured workers from South Australia (133 days) workers who had returned to work and were still working, a durable RTW, had been back to work for a shorter time compared to the Australian national average. Figure 8: Length of time back at work for durable RTW Q8a. How long have you been back at work? Australian Mean days 200 Figure 9: Length of time back at work for durable RTW (Trend) 200 Mean days back at work NSW VIC QLD SA TAS NT COM SEA NZ Base: Currently working in a paid job Base: Currently working in a paid job Australia, NSW=456 QLD=448 TAS=304 COM=156 NZ=478 98/99=1,166 02/03=2,185 06/07=2,323 10/11=2,275 VIC=458 SA=265 NT=90 SEA=55 99/00=2,474 03/04=2,058 07/08=2,255 11/12=2,256 00/01=2,355 04/05=2,304 08/09=2,194 01/02=2,308 05/06=2,385 09/10=2,043 Since 2009/10, the length of durable RTW has gradually increased from 141 to 149 days. This suggests that injured workers who have returned to work and are still working are going back to work earlier. 8

20 2.4.2 Length of non-durable RTW Injured workers who had returned to work, but were no longer working at the time of the interview, were asked to estimate how long they had been back at work before they stopped. (Reasons for not working are reported in Section 3.5). The mean estimated duration of non-durable RTW was 76 days. There was no statistical difference in the duration of non-durable RTW by jurisdiction compared to the Australian national average. Tasmania (90 days) had a longer non-durable RTW than Queensland (64 days) and South Australia (63 days) (Figure 10). The mean length of time back at work for Australian injured workers with a non-durable RTW has ranged from 64 days to 84 days over the 15 years of the RTW Monitor. The 2010/11 length of non-durable RTW of 68 days was lower than in 2008/09 (84 days) (Figure 11). Figure 10: Length of time back at work for Figure 11: Length of time back at work for non-durable RTW non-durable RTW (Trend) Q10. How long were you back at work before you stopped? Australian Mean - 76 days Mean days back at work NSW VIC QLD SA TAS NT SEA NZ 0 Base: Have returned to work but currently do not work Base: Have returned to work but currently do not work NSW=52 QLD=55 TAS=37 SEA=12 NZ=49 97/98=311 01/02=319 05/06=217 09/10=251 VIC=49 SA=43 NT=13 98/99=312 02/03=301 06/07=258 10/11=264 Note very small sample for NT and Seacare 99/00=314 03/04=254 07/08=289 11/12=261 00/01=339 04/05=265 08/09=312 The length of non-durable RTW was 76 days or nearly 11 weeks. 9

21 2.5 Income sources Measurement of income sources is an indicator of the RTW status at the time of interview. The RTW Monitor identifies income from employment, compensation, social security and where the injured worker does not have any income. Sources of income are identified at two time points: At time of RTW (reported as a process measure (in Section 3.8)); and At time of interview (reported as an outcome indicator below) Compensation status at the time of interview In 2011/12, one in four (25) Australian injured workers reported they were still receiving some form of weekly compensation payments at the time of the interview (Figure 12). New Zealand (15) had the lowest rate of injured workers receiving compensation at the time of interview, lower than the Australian national average. South Australia (42) and Comcare (36) had the highest rates. The national rate of injured workers receiving workers compensation payments at the time of interview has ranged between 19 and 25 of injured workers over the course of the RTW Monitor (Figure 13). Figure 12: Current compensation status Figure 13: Current compensation status (Trend) Q19. Are you still receiving weekly payments from <workers compensation jurisdiction>? 100 Australian Rate Still receiving weekly payments NSW VIC QLD SA TAS NT COM SEA NZ Base: All respondents Base: All respondents NSW=600 QLD=600 TAS=390 COM=225 NZ=600 97/98=2,906 01/02=3,142 05/06=3,014 09/10=2,689 VIC=602 SA=400 NT=120 SEA=91 98/99=3,095 02/03=2,966 06/07=3,019 10/11=3,007 99/00=3,219 03/04=2,687 07/08=3,017 11/12=3,028 00/01=3,195 04/05=2,995 08/09=2,965 One in four injured workers reported still receiving workers compensation payment six to nine months after submitting a claim. 10

22 2.5.2 Main source of income at the time of interview Income sources are analysed by main source of income (this section) and by recoding total sources of income as indicators of RTW status at the time of interview (Section 2.5.3). Nearly three in four (73) injured workers reported employment as their main source of income at the time of interview, while close to one in seven (15) reported workers compensation payments as their main source of income (Table 1). This is virtually identical to the rates for 2010/11. A smaller proportion of injured workers reported other main sources of income including social security (3) and their partner s income (4). Two percent of injured workers reported receiving no income at all. Table 1: Q20a. Main source of income Would you please tell me what is your main source of income? Income Source AUS (2803) NSW (600) VIC (602) QLD (600) SA (400) TAS (390) NT (120) SEA (91) Employment NZ (600) Workers comp Social security Partner s income No income Base: Note: All respondents (or ) indicates that the estimate shown is significantly higher (or lower) than the national average. Compared to the national average the main source of income was: Lower in South Australia (60) and Seacare (63) for employment; Higher is South Australia (28) for compensation payments; Lower in New Zealand (11) for compensation payments; and Higher in Tasmania (5) for social security. 73 of Australian injured workers were deriving their main income from employment at the time of interview. 11

23 Employment as the main source of income follows a similar trend to the durable RTW rate (Figure 14). From 2001/02 to 2005/06 proportion of injured workers reporting employment as the main source of income increased, as did the durable RTW rate. It fell from 2005/06 to 2008/09. The rate of employment as the main source of income has been steady for the past five years. Figure 14: Q20a. Main source of income (Australia) Would you please tell me what is your main source of income? 100 Employment Compensation payments Durable RTW Social security Base: All respondents 97/98=2,906 00/01=3,195 03/04=2,687 06/07=3,019 09/10=2,689 98/99=3,095 01/02=3,142 04/05=2,995 07/08=3,017 10/11=2,880 99/00=3,219 02/03=2,966 05/06=3,014 08/09=2,965 11/12=2,803 In 2011/12, 73 of injured workers reported employment as their main source of income. 12

24 2.5.3 Total sources of income at time of interview Total sources of income at the time of interview provide an indication of whether durable RTW was full, partial, non-durable / no RTW. Three categories of income sources have been used: Employment; Workers compensation payments; and Other sources (including social security, partner s wages). The indicators of RTW outcomes used are: Full RTW (income from employment only); Partial RTW (income from employment and some other source); and Non-durable / no RTW (income from any source except employment). Based on reported income sources at the time of interview: 61 of Australian injured workers had a full RTW; 14 had a partial RTW; and 25 of injured workers in Australia had either not returned to work or had a non-durable RTW. The full RTW rate (61) for 2011/12 was similar to the four previous years (Figure 15), but lower than 2005/06 and 2006/07. The non-durable / no RTW rate (25) for 2011/12 was similar to the previous year. These rates have remained constant in recent years. 13

25 Figure 15: Q20a. Q20b. 100 RTW outcome indicators measured by income sources at interview Would you please tell me what is your main source of income? What other sources of income do you have? Full RTW Partial RTW Non-durable/ no RTW Base: All respondents 97/98=2,906 00/01=3,195 03/04=2,687 06/07=3,019 09/10=2,689 98/99=3,095 01/02=3,142 04/05=2,995 07/08=3,017 10/11=2,880 99/00=3,219 02/03=2,966 05/06=3,014 08/09=2,965 11/12=2,803 Using income sources, the full RTW rate was 61, the partial RTW rate was 14 and the No RTW or non-durable RTW rate was

26 RTW outcomes measured by income sources differed by jurisdiction (Table 2). Injured workers in New Zealand (64) had the highest full RTW rate. South Australia (37) and Seacare (35) had the highest no RTW or non-durable RTW, while New Zealand (21) had the lowest no RTW or non-durable RTW rate. Table 2: Q20a. Q20b. RTW outcome indicators measured by income sources at interview Would you please tell me what is your main source of income? What other sources of income do you have? AUS (2,803) NSW (600) VIC (602) QLD (600) SA (400) TAS (390) NT (120) SEA (91) NZ (601) Full RTW (income from employment only) Partial RTW (employment plus any other income source) Non-durable RTW/No RTW (income from all sources except employment) Base: All respondents Note: (or ) indicates that the estimate shown is significantly higher (or lower) than the national average. Percentages may not add to 100 because of rounding. 61 of Australian injured workers reported an income source that indicated a full RTW, while 14 reported sources that indicated a partial RTW and 25 reported no employment related income. The durable RTW rate (75) reported in Section 2.2 above is equivalent to the sum of the full RTW rate (61) and partial RTW rate (14). This demonstrates the reliability of income source as an indicator of RTW status. 15

27 2.6 Employment and duties Two aspects of RTW are continuity of employer (Section 2.6.1) and continuity of duties (Section 2.6.2). Continuity of employer or duties is measured in relation to the pre-claim employer or pre-claim duties. This section of the report focuses on changes in duties and changes to employer as outcome indicator at the time of interview. Changed duties at the time of RTW are reported as a process measure in Section Employer at time of interview Almost nine in ten (85) Australian injured workers, who had returned to work, were working with the same employer at the time of interview, or when they stopped working (Figure 16). Injured workers covered by Comcare (91) were most likely to remain working with their original employer. Northern Territory (71) had the lowest proportion of injured workers who were working with their original employer. In 2011/12, the rate of RTW with the same employer at 85 was similar to the previous two years, but higher than 2007/08 at 82 (Figure 17). Figure 16: Return to same employer Figure 17: Return to same employer (Trend) Q11. [Are/Were] you working with the same employer you were working for when you incurred your original injury? Australian Rate Working for same employer NSW VIC QLD SA TAS NT COM SEA NZ 0 Base: Have returned to work Base: Have returned to work NSW=508 QLD=503 TAS=341 COM=200 NZ=527 97/98=2,440 01/02=2,627 05/06=2,602 09/10=2,294 VIC=507 SA=308 NT=103 SEA=67 98/99=2,639 02/03=2,486 06/07=2,579 10/11=2,462 99/00=2,788 03/04=2,312 07/08=2,544 11/12=2,537 00/01=2,693 04/05=2,569 08/09=2, of Australian injured workers were working with the same employer. 16

28 2.6.2 Duties at time of interview Three in four (73) Australian injured workers who had returned to work were doing the same duties at the time of interview (or when they stopped working) as they were doing before they were injured (Figure 18). Injured workers covered by Seacare (95) and in New Zealand (82) were more likely to have returned to the same duties compared to the national average. The declining trend between 2005/06 (76) and 2007/08 (73) was reversed in 2008/09 (77), although it has declined since 2008/09 (Figure 19). Figure 18: Return to same duties Figure 19: Return to same duties (Trend) Q12. [Are/Were] you doing the same sort of work or duties that you were doing when you incurred your original injury? 100 Australian Rate Doing the same sort of work NSW VIC QLD SA TAS NT SEA NZ Base: Have returned to work Base: Have returned to work NSW=508 QLD=503 TAS=341 SEA=67 97/98=2,440 01/02=2,627 05/06=2,602 09/10=2,294 VIC=507 SA=308 NT=103 NZ=527 98/99=2,639 02/03=2,486 06/07=2,579 10/11=2,462 99/00=2,788 03/04=2,312 07/08=2,544 11/12=2,337 00/01=2,693 04/05=2,569 08/09=2, of Australian injured workers who had returned to work were doing the same duties as before the injury. 17

29 2.6.3 Continuity of employer and duties Two in three (67) Australian injured workers who had returned to work, were working for the same employer and carrying out the same duties at the time of interview (or when they stopped working) as they had prior to their injury (Table 3). Continuity of employer and duties was more common in New Zealand (77) compared to Australia. Injured workers covered by Seacare who had returned to work were more likely to have returned to a different employer and same duties (13) compared to the Australian national average (6). The Northern Territory has the highest rate (21) of injured workers return to different employers and different duties. Seacare had the lowest rates (2). Table 3: Continuity of employer and duties at interview Q11. [Are/Were] you working with the same employer you were working for when you incurred your original injury? Q12. [Are/Were] you doing the same sort of work or duties that you were doing when you incurred you original injury? AUS (2,337) NSW (508) VIC (507) QLD (503) SA (308) TAS (341) NT (103) SEA (67) NZ (527) Same employer/ same duties Same employer/ different duties Different employer/ same duties Different employer/ different duties Base: Have returned to work Note: (or ) indicates that the estimate shown is significantly higher (or lower) than the national average. 67 of Australian injured workers, and 77 of New Zealand injured workers, were working for the same employer and carrying out the same duties as they had prior to their injury. 18

30 3. RTW Process indicators The previous section reported key outcome indicators measured by the RTW Monitor for Australian and New Zealand workers compensation jurisdictions in 2011/12. This section reports process indicators: The culture of the workplace where the injury occurred (identifying characteristics that are supportive of the RTW process). 9 The process of lodging a claim. Assistance with RTW, specifically: o o o o o The development of a RTW plan; Assistance with RTW; Changed duties; Partial RTW; The people who were the most and least helpful. Rating of insurance type services. In the following pages, the process measures are documented. Differences by return to work outcomes have been noted, although this detail has not been included in the tables and charts. 3.1 Workplace culture Injured workers were asked how much they agreed or disagreed with six statements about the workplace where they sustained their injury to gain a perspective of workplace culture. The proportion that agreed and disagreed with the statement is reported. More detailed tables, including means scores are included as Appendix D. The attributes of the workplace that were rated included: Work importance The work that you do at your workplace is very important to you. Work satisfaction You are very satisfied with the work you do. Valued at work People at work really value what you do. 9 These measures were developed from qualitative research with injured workers conducted for Comcare. The five measures of workplace culture included in the RTW Monitor after analysis of internal reliability and factor analysis see The impact of Workplace Culture on Return to Work, Comcare Australia paper presented to WorkCongress5, Adelaide

31 Management s help with RTW Generally, management at the place where you work will do what they can to help you get back to work. OH&S spending Your employer is prepared to spend the money and time required to make the workplace safe. RTW policies and procedures Your employer has clear policies and procedures about returning injured workers to work. Over nine in ten Australian injured workers agreed that the work they do is important to them (94) and were satisfied with that work (89). A slightly lower proportion of injured workers felt valued at their workplace (77) (Table 4). There has been a significant increase in work importance and work satisfaction since 2009/10. Table 4: Level of agreement with statements about work Q34. I would like you to tell me if you agree or disagree with the statements I am going to read out. Is that strongly agree/disagree? Work importance - agree Work satisfaction - agree Valued at work - agree AUS (3,028) NSW (600) VIC (602) QLD (600) SA (400) TAS (390) NT (120) SEA (91) NZ (600) Base: Note: All respondents (or ) indicates that the estimate shown is significantly higher (or lower) than the national average. More detail is included in Appendix D. Injured workers who had returned to work were more likely to agree that: They were valued at work (79) than those who had a non-durable RTW (70) or had not returned to work at all (70) There was no difference in importance or satisfaction ratings by RTW outcome. A higher proportion of Seacare injured workers were satisfied with the work they do (96) and felt valued at work (93) compared to Australian national rate. Workplace attributes associated with returning to work and workplace safety had lower levels of agreement compared to those of workplace satisfaction (Table 5): 20

32 67 agreed that management would help injured workers RTW down from 71 in 2010/ agreed that their employer had clear policies and procedures about returning injured workers to work; and 62 agreed that management was prepared to spend time and money to make the workplace safe down from 66 in 2010/11. Differences in attitude towards the workplace by jurisdiction were identified. Compared to the Australian national rates of agreement: Injured workers from New Zealand were more likely to agree that management assisted with RTW (80), employers had clear policies and procedures on RTW (71) and employers spent money and time on Occupational Health and Safety (76). Injured workers covered by Seacare were more likely to agree that management assisted with RTW (79), had clear RTW policies and procedures (79) and employers spent money and time on Occupational Health and Safety (78). Injured workers from Tasmania were more likely to agree that management assisted with RTW (76) and employers spent money and time on Occupational Health and Safety (71). Lower levels of agreement were found among injured workers in Northern Territory about their employer being prepared to spend time and money on Occupational Health and Safety (52). There has been little change in the agreement with statements relating to workplace culture over the past five years. 21

33 Table 5: Level of agreement with statements about workplace safety Q34. I would like you to tell me if you agree or disagree with the statements I am going to read out. Is that strongly agree/disagree? AUS (2,803) NSW (600) VIC (602) QLD (600) SA (400) TAS (390) NT (120) SEA (91) NZ (600) Management help RTW agree Clear RTW policies and procedures agree OH&S spending agree Base: Note: All respondents (or ) indicates that the estimate shown is significantly higher (or lower) than the national average. More detail is included in Appendix D Australian injured workers who had returned to work were more likely to agree that workplaces: Were willing to spend time and money on occupational health and safety (67) than those who had a non-durable RTW (49) or had not returned to work at all (39). Had management who did what they could to assist RTW (72) than those who had a non-durable RTW (59) or had not returned to work at all (41). Had clear RTW policies and procedures (71) than those who had a non-durable RTW (58) or had not returned to work at all (43). There is a strong relationship between workplace culture and RTW outcomes. 22

34 3.2 Making a claim An important part of RTW includes access to, and complexity of, information needed to put in a claim. These results are examined in the following sections, together with the relationship between claim experience and RTW Information needed for putting in a claim Eight in ten (80) Australian injured workers reported that it was easy to get the information they required to lodge a claim (Figure 20). Another 11 indicated that it was not easy and 9 were unable to say. While a similar proportion of injured workers in each of the jurisdictions indicated that it was easy to get information to lodge a claim, those from Victoria (14) and Northern Territory (17) were more likely to report that it was not easy (fewer injured workers in these jurisdictions were unable to say). With the exception of a peak in 2005/06 (83), the proportion of injured workers reporting it easy to access claim information has remained stable over the last nine years of the Monitor (Figure 21). Figure 20: Easy to get information for a Figure 21: Easy to get information for a claim claim (Trend) Q1. When you put in your claim under <jurisdiction>, was it easy to get the information you needed to make a claim? Australian Rate Finding it easy to get information NSW VIC QLD SA TAS NT SEA NZ 0 Base: All respondents Base: All respondents NSW=600 QLD=600 TAS=390 NZ=600 97/98=2,906 01/02=3,142 05/06=3,014 09/10=2,689 VIC=602 SA=400 NT=120 SEA=91 98/99=3,095 02/03=2,966 06/07=3,019 10/11=2,880 99/00=3,219 03/04=2,687 07/08=3,017 11/12=2,803 00/01=3,195 04/05=2,995 08/09=2, of Australian injured workers found it easy to get the information needed to make a claim. 85 of New Zealand injured workers found making a claim easy. 23

35 3.2.2 Complexity of putting in a claim Almost three in four Australian injured workers (74) considered it simple (55) or very simple (19) to put in a claim, while nearly two in ten (17) considered the process complicated (13) or very complicated (5) (Table 6). Nine percent did not feel it to be either simple or complicated. The proportion of injured workers reporting the claim process as being simple was higher in New Zealand (80) and Queensland (79) compared to the Australian national average, while in Victoria (68) there was a lower proportion. Over time, the proportion of injured workers who found it complicated to lodge their claim has declined. The current rate (13 consider putting in a claim to be complicated) is lower than 2006/07 when it was 21. Table 6: Q2a. Ease of putting in a claim Would you describe the process of putting in a claim as? AUS (2,803) NSW (600) VIC (602) QLD (600) SA (400) TAS (390) NT (120) SEA (91) NZ (600) Total simple Total complicated Base: Note: All respondents (or ) indicates that the estimate shown is significantly higher (or lower) than the national average. * indicates rounding. 74 of Australian injured workers and 80 of New Zealand injured workers found it simple to put in their claim while 17 found it complicated. 24

36 3.3 Previous claim experience The injured worker as the unit of analysis has provided a perspective of the longer-term nature, beyond that related to a specific claim. Another measure, which provides a perspective on the earlier experience of injured workers, is previous claims. This has been obtained through the survey and also from Scheme data. These measures can be considered in the context of the responses to the questions about the reasons for not working (Section 3.5 below). The relationship of previous claim experience to the current claim being a recurrence of an old injury or a new injury is not tested Previous claim A central concept for this report is that the injured worker is the primary unit of analysis when analysing RTW, not the claim. Therefore previous claim experience, as well as durability of RTW, will contribute to an understanding of outcome drivers. A question about previous claim experience was introduced in Previous claims by injured workers who participated in the survey were also identified from scheme-based data (see Section 4 below). In 2011/12, four in ten (40) Australian injured workers included in the RTW Monitor who made a claim of 10 days or more in duration reported having had a previous workers compensation claim (Figure 22). Injured workers from New Zealand (52), Queensland (46) and South Australia (46) were significantly more likely to report a previous claim compared to the Australian national average (40) (Figure 22). The rate of injured workers reporting previous workers compensation claims has been stable since 2002/03 (Figure 23). In contrast to the self-reported previous claims, the analysis of Scheme data provided with the sample, found that 50 of the injured workers had previous claims. There was no difference in previous claim experience for those who returned to work or did not RTW. 25

37 Figure 22: Previous claims Figure 23: Previous claims (Trend) Q1a. Have you had any other workers compensation claim BEFORE that claim (you made in September or October last year)? 100 Australian Rate with previous claim NSW VIC QLD SA TAS NT SEA NZ 0 Base: All respondents Base: All respondents NSW=600 QLD=600 TAS=390 NZ=600 01/02=1,566 04/05=2,995 07/08=3,017 10/11=2,880 VIC=600 SA=400 NT=120 SEA=91 02/03=2,966 05/06=3,014 08/09=2,965 11/12=2,803 03/04=2,687 06/07=3,019 09/10=2, of Australian injured workers reported having a previous workers compensation claim Previous lost time claims A question was introduced in 2003 asking injured workers, who reported having a previous claim, if they had any time off work because of the earlier claim. One in three (34) Australian injured workers reported that they had time off work because of an earlier claim, that is, they had a lost time claim (Figure 24). Injured workers in New Zealand (45), those covered by Seacare (44), South Australia (40) and Queensland (39) were more likely to report a previous lost time claim compared to the Australian national average. Close to seven in ten (65) injured workers who reported having a previous claim indicated having time off work as a result of the earlier claim or claims. The incidence of previous lost time claims reported by injured workers has been close to one in three injured workers for the past five years (Figure 25). Analysis of Scheme data provided with the sample found that a higher proportion (43) of injured workers had previous lost time claims compared to the rate of selfreported lost time claims. There was no difference in RTW outcome for the injured workers who had a previous lost time claim. However, injured workers who returned to work were more likely not to have had a previous lost time claim (7) compared to those with a non-durable RTW (2) or those who had not returned to work (4). 26

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