New data shows employer support crucial for psychological claimants

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New data shows employer support crucial for psychological claimants

In Australia, only one third of psychological claimants feel supported by their employer: those who do are substantially more likely to return to work.

Written by Gabrielle Lis


Return to work is 52% more common amongst psychological claimants who rate their employer as supportive compared to those who do not, according to Dr Wyatt’s analysis of the 2013 and 2014 National Return to Work Surveys. However, only slightly more than a quarter of workers with a psychological claim feel that their employer offers the support they need throughout the process.

The National Return to Work Survey asks claimants to rate their employers’ performance on six measures of supportiveness, namely:

  • Your employer did what they could to support you;
  • Your employer made an effort to find suitable employment for you;
  • Your employer provided enough info on rights and responsibilities;
  • Your employer helped you with your recovery;
  • Your employer treated you fairly DURING the claims process; and
  • Your employer treated you fairly AFTER the claims process.

Of these measures, employers’ helpfulness during recovery received the lowest rating from workers with a psychological injury, with less than a quarter (23%) responding positively to this question. Positive ratings for the remaining items ranged between 30% and 35%.

The tables below compare the return to work results of psychological claimants who gave their employer an overall positive rating in terms of the support offered, with those who did not. (In the tables, a supportive response is labelled “positive” while a non-supportive response is labelled “negative”.) Short term return to work (comprising all who were at work at the time of the survey) and durable return to work (comprising all who’d been back at work for at least 3 months at the time of the survey) are in separate tables.

The tables show that a supportive employer response to injury is associated with 52% higher rates of current RTW (79% positive, 52% negative), and 66% higher rates of durable RTW (63% positive, 38% negative) than a response that is not seen as supportive.

If we drill down into the data and look at the association between RTW and the individual measures of employer response, we see that durable RTW was highest (83%) amongst those who felt that their employer had been helpful during recovery and lowest (50%) amongst those who did not believe their employer had make an effort to find suitable duties, and those who did not believe their employer provided enough information on rights and responsibilities. The tables below detail how short-term and durable RTW rates varied according to worker ratings of each measure of support.


It is important to note that the research discussed here provides evidence about correlation, not causation. Based on the available evidence, we can’t say definitively that employer support causes workers with psychological injuries to return to work. Unfortunately there isn’t much research that quantifies the impact of workplace factors on RTW.

However, experts tend to agree that supportive workplaces do facilitate durable return to work. There is also a broad consensus regarding the ways in which employers can demonstrate support for workers with psychological injuries. For practical advice on how to increase worker perceptions of employer support, go.


*This article is supplied by Return to Work Matters an industry leading in claims management strategies; this article was written by Gabrielle Lis.  All views, opinions and conclusions expressed are those of the authors and/or speakers and do not necessarily reflect the view, opinion, conclusion and/or policy of ExamWorks and its affiliates.

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