Return to work proposal

This information bulletin has been developed to inform employers of their obligation under the Return to Work Act 1986 (the Act) to provide a proposal in writing for a Return to Work Plan (RTWP).

The employer is obligated under section 75A(1)(c) of the Act to provide a proposal in writing for a RTWP within 7 days after the employer becomes aware that the worker’s total or partial incapacity is likely to exceed 28 days. It is noted that this legislative requirement only entails a written proposal, not the establishment of a RTWP.

The expected duration of a worker’s incapacity can be identified when the employer receives the worker’s medical certificate of capacity. The medical certificate of capacity is the primary tool for medical professionals to communicate with all parties involved in the return to work process. The certificate places emphasis on what the worker can do, rather than what they cannot do, which will assist the employer in identifying suitable duties.

An injured worker should discuss with their treating medical practitioner and employer what duties they feel they can realistically do, given their injury.

It is reasonable to expect an injured worker to allow their employer to discuss return to work options directly with their treating medical practitioner, however, an employer should not impose on the workers private consultation without consent from the worker.

NT WorkSafe supports the position statement, Realising the Health Benefits of Work , introduced by the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM). The paper highlights the longer someone is off work the less likely they are to return. Providing suitable duties will help the injured worker recover at work while reducing disruption to their personal and work life, and disruption to business.

At the time a policy is issued, insurers will provide employers with information on the claims process which will include information on the employer’s obligation to give a proposal in writing for a RTWP. The insurer will also reinforce this information at the time of any claim. If the employer requires any additional information or clarification, it is recommended that they contact their workers compensation insurer in the first instance.

The next step in the return to work process is the development of a RTWP. For complex claims, the insurer may appoint a vocational rehabilitation provider who will assist in developing the plan, otherwise, the insurer may be able to provide the employer with a template to assist in the development of the plan.

NT WorkSafe have developed a number of informative resources that can assist both the employer and the worker in their understanding of the return to work process:

Information Bulletin: Return to Work Plans (RTWP)

This information bulletin has been developed to assist employers in their understanding and development of a Return to Work Plan (RTWP).

Video: Returning to Work – Guide for Employers

This short video will assist you getting your injured worker back to work, and explain what to do and what help is available -

Video: Role of a Rehabilitation Provider

This short video will assist you in understanding the role of a vocational rehabilitation provider in the return to work process -

Contact us

For further information please contact us on 1800 250 713, facsimile (08) 8999 5141, via email at or go to the NT WorkSafe website at

Return to Work Proposal (V1.1 – February 2022)