After suffering serious or life–changing injuries as a result of an accident, many individuals are understandably concerned about their jobs and future employment.

Amongst many of the issues which they will face after an accident, injured people will often ask the question when they will return to work or if they will ever be able to do so. Whether you love or hate your job, most people have to work to earn their living and their jobs provide them with an identity and purpose. Being unable to work due to injury can bring financial worries for the future, loss of identity and for some the loss of a career which they loved.

The 2015 Rehabilitation Code promotes the collaborative use of rehabilitation and early intervention in the compensation process. The Code’s purpose is to help injured claimants make the best and quickest possible medical, social, vocational and psychological recovery. This means ensuring that the need for rehabilitation is assessed and addressed as a priority.

Evidence has shown that it is beneficial for early intervention to ensure that injury claimants can achieve the best possible outcome. Whilst the most immediate needs may involve addressing the physical, psychological and social needs, even where a significant injury has occurred, it is appropriate for vocational rehabilitation providers to assess and evaluate claimants to assess their capacity for work, as soon as it reasonable. The longer a claimant is out of work, the more likely they are to develop a negative perspective about their own capabilities and about returning to work. It is therefore important for claimants, solicitors to help their clients to be positive and consider what they are still able to do rather than focus on that which they cannot do.

Solicitors representing injured claimants can utilise the services of a vocational rehabilitation provider to address vocational needs. The role of the vocational rehabilitation provider is to assist the claimant’s overall rehabilitation providing them with the best opportunities to return to work. The services provided by a vocational rehabilitation provider will typically include interview, testing and transferable skills analysis, career redirection assessments, return to work assessments, advice and research, job coaching, vocational case management and vocational employment expert reports. This may be done on an objective basis so that they are “compared to norms” by comparison to normative data.

However, for some claimants despite an obvious restriction, they may have developed techniques to work around these which may not be evidenced by normative data. The vocational rehabilitation provider therefore has to consider the capabilities as well as the limitations whilst considering the claimant’s past employment history, ambitions to retrain or study and their personal preferences to find a suitable alternative career path.

Some claimants can find it useful to try a selection of roles before deciding on their alternative career, especially if they are still young and not sure what alternative career path to choose. With the right guidance and advice, they can find an alternative career where they can utilise their transferable skills and current capabilities, despite their injury.

A good vocational rehabilitation provider can help them to integrate and adjust into the working world again. It is important for solicitors representing claimants to discuss the vocational rehabilitation needs with their clients as early as is possible to ensure the correct expert assistance is obtained to allow their clients to regain their confidence and independence by returning to suitable employment.