Factors Associated with Employer Support for Injured Workers During a Workers’ Compensation Claim


Purpose The employer/worker relationship can be an important catalyst for—or obstacle to—successful return to work (RTW). An understanding of factors associated with an injured worker’s relationship with their employer, and employer involvement in RTW planning, is warranted. Methods Analysis of n = 8808 cross-sectional survey responses from injured workers in nine Australian workers’ compensation (WC) jurisdictions. Workers completed a telephone survey between 6 and 24 months post-WC claim acceptance. Factors associated with the worker’s perception of employer support were examined using ordinal regression. Factors associated with employer provision of RTW plans were examined using logistic regression. Results Factors associated with employer support included being aged over 50 years, not having a mental health condition, better self-rated health and less time between injury and claim. Factors associated with having a RTW plan included being female, not having a mental health condition and working for a self-insurer. Factors associated with having a written RTW plan included being female and being under 50 years. There was wide variation in the provision of RTW plans between WC jurisdictions. Conclusions There are strong associations between worker, claim and injury-related factors and the injured worker’s experience of employer support. Identification of workers at risk of receiving inadequate support during the RTW process may enable interventions to improve support and RTW outcomes.

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This publication uses data supplied by Safe Work Australia and has been compiled in collaboration with state, territory and Commonwealth workers’ compensation regulators. The views expressed are the authors and are not necessarily the views of Safe Work Australia or the state, territory and Commonwealth workers’ compensation regulators. The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Ms Dianne Beck for assistance with data management, and Mr Shane Compton from the Social Research Centre for assistance with data provision and interpretation.


This project was funded by Safe Work Australia and WorkSafe Victoria through a grant to AC. Safe Work Australia provided the data for the study.

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Correspondence to Luke R. Sheehan.

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This study received ethics approval from the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (MUHREC) on 8 October 2014 (CF14/2995-2014001663).

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Sheehan, L.R., Lane, T.J., Gray, S.E. et al. Factors Associated with Employer Support for Injured Workers During a Workers’ Compensation Claim. J Occup Rehabil 29, 718–727 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-019-09834-5

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  • Return to work plan
  • Return to work
  • Workplace injury
  • Mental health conditions