The three-year pilot aims to provide prompt private out-patient rehabilitation treatment services to such employees, to facilitate their early recovery and return to work.
Hong Kong's Labour Department (LD) rolled out the 'Pilot Rehabilitation Programme for Employees Injured at Work' on 23 September 2022, aiming to provide prompt private out-patient rehabilitation treatment services to participating injured construction employees, with a view to facilitating their early recovery and return to work.
The three-year pilot programme is mainly funded by the Government. Participants only need to pay the same fees as public hospitals/public clinics for receiving private out-patient rehabilitation treatment services. They can also claim reimbursement of the medical expenses from their employers in accordance with the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (ECO). Participants will each have a designated person to follow up on their rehabilitation treatment and return-to-work arrangements.
"The Pilot Programme is beneficial to both injured construction employees and employers. Injured employees can receive rehabilitation treatment services early, preventing work injuries from developing into chronic conditions. The early recovery and return to work of employees can also help maintain productivity," said the LD spokesperson.
The spokesperson reminded that employers should comply with the requirement of the ECO on reporting work injury cases to the LD as soon as possible, so that the LD can contact and arrange for eligible injured construction employees to join the pilot programme early and receive rehabilitation treatment.
The Government has engaged Actmax Limited, a subsidiary of Human Health Holdings Limited, to implement the pilot programme. The organisation, in collaboration with its strategic partner, CUHK Medical Centre, has established the Work Injury Rehabilitation Office (WIRO) to provide multidisciplinary rehabilitation treatment, case management, and return-to-work arrangement services of the pilot programme under the supervision of the LD.
The details of the pilot programme are as follows.
- Work injury happened on or after 1 September 2022;
- Engaged in the construction industry at the time of the work injury;
- Has sustained a musculoskeletal injury or contracted a musculoskeletal occupational disease prescribed under the Employees′ Compensation Ordinance (ECO) due to work injury;
- Has been absent from work for six weeks or more, or is expected to be absent from work for six weeks or more because of the work injury;
- A clinical assessment by a case doctor to ascertain that the injuries are suitable for treatment under the pilot programme;
- Participation in the pilot programme will not affect the rights and benefits of the injured employees under the ECO.
Scope of services
- Provide private out-patient rehabilitation treatment services, including
- Medical treatment (provided by general practitioner, family physician, orthopaedic doctor or occupational physician),
- Occupational therapy,
- Imaging examination service and electrodiagnostic testing service.
- Case management services and return-to-work facilitation services.
Rehabilitation and return-to-work facilitation processes
- The LD will, based on the reported work injury cases, preliminarily identify suitable injured construction employees and contact them to introduce the pilot programme.
- Eligible injured construction employees have to confirm with the LD their wish to join the pilot programme early within six months from the date of the work injury.
- The LD will pass information of the work injury cases to the WIRO with the consent of the injured employees.
- WIRO will contact the injured employees, assign a case manager to follow up on the application procedures, and arrange speedy rehabilitation treatment services for the employee.
- The rehabilitation treatment team develops a rehabilitation treatment plan for the employee, and the case manager provides psychological and emotional support to the employee.
- The case manager and the rehabilitation treatment team develop a return-to-work plan for the employee. The plan includes coordinating with the employer on a work trial, light duties or work modification by the case manager where appropriate, feasible and agreeable between the employer and the employee, with a view to facilitating the employee′s gradual adaptation and returning to pre-injury job or take up new work.
- If injured employees suspect that their employers have failed to report their work injuries or prescribed occupational diseases to the Commissioner for Labour, they can approach the Employees′ Compensation Division (ECD) of the LD directly.
- The pilot programme is mainly funded by the Government.
- Participants only need to pay the same fees as public hospitals/ public clinics. The employee can claim reimbursement of the medical expenses from the employer in accordance with the ECO. Employers are required to fulfill their statutory obligations under the ECO to pay the employee medical expenses for treatment of work injury.
Image / Shutterstock