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Suitable employment

Explains your obligations in providing suitable employment to an injured worker.

As an employer, you are required to provide suitable employment to enable an injured worker to recover at work.

Suitable employment needs to be provided when a worker is unable to immediately return to their normal duties after an injury. Other terms such as suitable duties, suitable work, pre injury duties, modified duties, light duties, etc. may also be used to describe suitable employment.

Your commitment to provide suitable employment is a fundamental part of any successful recovery at work strategy and should take into account:

  • the nature of the worker's incapacity 
  • the worker's age, education, skills and work experience 
  • any injury management plan 
  • any workplace rehabilitation services available to the worker.

How to identify suitable employment

When considering what tasks to offer your worker, consider those closest to their pre injury duties as the first option. You can also consider:

  • changing their hours of work
  • modifying their duties 
  • giving them a different job
  • providing training opportunities 
  • trying a different workplace 
  • a combination of these options.

How to plan for the recovery at work

Our Recover at work planning tool and template can help you to plan your worker's recovery at work and you may also consider giving the worker the opportunity to participate in the development of the recover at work plan. You should:

  • describe the plan in writing 
  • provide copies of the plan to the worker and the doctor 
  • provide a copy of any changes to the plan to the worker in writing.

Other help is also available. You can request a workplace assessment from your insurer plus there are other options such as a work trial with a host employer to assist you to identify suitable work options.  A lack of available duties does not negate your obligations to actively participate in the recover at work planning process.

When suitable employment does not have to be provided

You have an obligation to provide suitable employment to a worker with current work capacity, unless:

  • it is not reasonably practicable to do so  
  • the worker voluntarily left employment either, before or after, the commencement of the incapacity for work  
  • you terminated the workers employment after the injury, other than for the reason that the worker was not fit for employment as a result of the injury.

Note: It is an offence to dismiss an injured worker because they are not fit for employment as a result of the injury. 

Notifying the insurer

You must notify the insurer if you are unable to offer suitable employment to a worker who has the capacity for work.

Not offering an injured worker suitable employment may have an impact on the cost of your workers compensation premium and a breach of your obligation to provide suitable employment may result in you receiving a financial penalty.

Both workers and employers must ensure they meet their obligations for suitable employment as required by the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998.

Call 13 10 50 for more information about suitable employment.

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