Jun 17, 2024 • 9 min read

How to Prepare for a Return to Work Case Conference

Learn how a return to work (RTW) case conference facilitates the smooth transition of an injured worker back to work, and strategies to prepare effectively for it. 

Written by: Eisabess Chee

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Research has consistently shown that re-integrating an injured worker into the workplace promotes recovery, reduces disability risks, boosts confidence, and improves productivity levels for the employee. 

When it has been assessed to be an appropriate time for the injured worker to return to work, a return to work case conference is organised to help all involved parties reach consensus on how to best support this process.

What is a Return to Work Case Conference?

Like all other workers compensation case conferences, a return to work case conference helps the key players of a claim convene to discuss the worker’s progress, align expectations, and set goals.

What’s different about a return to work case conference, however, is its purpose in establishing an appropriate return to work plan for the injured worker.

The worker’s return to the workplace should be implemented thoughtfully, and the worker should never be immediately re-assigned to pre-injury work duties.

Hence a return to work case conference meeting agenda can include:

  • Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals for stakeholders
  • Discussing the employee’s capacity for work
  • Identifying potential barriers to an employee’s return to work journey
  • Agreeing on strategies to accommodate the employee, such as flexible work arrangements, workplace modifications, or substitute duties
  • Acknowledging who is responsible for each course of action

It is important to note that a return to work case conference can take place before a worker is assessed to have fully recovered, as returning to work is not something that occurs only after rehabilitation is complete.

Allowing the employee to take on suitable duties in the workplace is in fact a significant part of the recovery process.

Kickstarting a Return to Work Case Conference

Anyone can request for a return to work case conference, but it is typically initiated and organised by either a:

The people who are thereafter expected to attend an injured worker’s return to work case conference are generally the:

  • Injured worker
  • Employer
  • Doctor
  • Workplace rehabilitation provider
  • Insurer

Ideally this should be held as a face to face meeting at the doctor’s practice, but can be carried out over the phone or via video conferencing.

The person chairing the meeting should also:

  • Share an agenda ahead of time
  • Ensure that the meeting duration is enough to achieve the best possible outcomes
  • Establish a discussion environment that is collaborative, respectful and honest

Preparing for a Return to Work Case Conference

The return to work case conference is an opportunity to get everyone on the same page about the injured worker’s main issues, as well as what needs to be done to support their recovery.

To make the most out of this opportunity, each party should come to the meeting prepared – either by engaging in discussions with relevant parties beforehand, or by obtaining information that would aid in the overall process.

For Employees

  • Speak to your workplace rehabilitation provider (or rehabilitation case manager) regarding concerns about communication methods
  • Speak to your doctor to understand your present condition
  • Have ready relevant reports and documentation about your injury or illness

For Employers

  • Understand the employee’s pre-injury role, responsibilities and capacity for work
  • Identify potential barriers to the employee’s return to the workplace
  • Identify potential ways to accommodate the employee, including flexible work arrangements, workplace modifications, or substitute duties

For Workplace Rehabilitation Providers

Particularly if you had initiated the return to work case conference, you have the responsibility to:

  • Schedule the case conference Invite participants
  • Develop the injured worker’s draft return to work plan
  • Develop a meeting agenda
  • Compile relevant supporting information

Choosing the Right Workplace Rehabilitation Provider

The best way to optimise workplace recovery outcomes is to engage a workplace rehabilitation provider known for being:

  • Qualified and professional in their knowledge and provision of rehabilitative services
  • Able to deliver effective and satisfactory workplace recovery results
  • Empathetic, communicative, and responsive with employer, injured worker, insurer, and WorkCover doctor throughout the entire process
  • Trusted and highly rated by injured workers, GPs, and businesses of all sizes
  • Speak to AusRehab today to find out how we check those boxes.


Choosing an excellent workplace rehabilitation provider is the first step to ensuring a smooth and effective recovery journey, leading to a successful return to work. Choose AusRehab.

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Eisabess Chee

Eisabess Chee is a seasoned content writer with over 8 years of diverse experience in journalism, content creation, and education. At AusRehab, she spearheads research, editing, and writing, crafting insightful resources that tackle and resolve workplace injuries. Beyond her role, Eisabess also curates the AusRehab monthly newsletter, ensuring it’s packed with valuable and well researched content.

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