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Supporting injured workers to return to work

It makes good business sense to support an injured worker to return safely to work as quickly as possible. As an employer, you also have certain legal responsibilities if an employee is injured at work.

Discrimination against an injured worker is against the law, regardless of whether the injury was sustained at work or outside the workplace. An ‘injured worker’ includes a person with a temporary or permanent disability, physical or otherwise.

Getting back to work can reduce the financial and emotional impact on a worker and their family. It can also be an important factor in helping them recover and return to normal life. However, a worker should not feel pressured into returning to work. Make sure they are given enough time  to recover from the injury or illness, have a reasonable return-to-work plan and appropriate duties when they return.

Appropriate duties

When a worker does return, make sure that they are given appropriate duties and assistance while they recover from the injury or illness. This might include making reasonable adjustments to the workplace. 

One of the most common complaints to the Commission is that employers refuse to consider letting employees return to work on reduced duties or before they are fully recovered. Instead, employees are told, ‘we are not going to accommodate you’ or “we have no suitable work for you based on your statement of capacity”. But a requirement that a worker must be fully fit before returning to work may be unfavourable, depending on the circumstances.

Related resources

The Commission also offers training for employers and has a range of publications and resources on discrimination and the law.

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