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Non-work related injury & returning to work

17 August 2020 | News

Managing an employee’s physical incapacity to do their job from a non-work related injury or illness can be complex. While individual situations will vary and specific advice should be obtained, it is important that an employee can safely return to their job role.

In Australia, it is against the law to discriminate against an employee because of an injury or illness, including a non-work related injury. Under national and state equal employment opportunity and anti-discrimination laws in the workplace, employers have a duty to take reasonable measures to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible.

Employers must make reasonable adjustments to allow staff to resume their duties within a reasonable time period. Moreover, this should be balanced with responsibilities associated with legislative requirements. These include occupational, health, safety and welfare obligations.

Most importantly, any decision about managing an employee who is physically (or mentally) incapable of performing their job must be based on current medical advice from an appropriately qualified medical practitioner.

Employees will often provide their employer with a Return to Work clearance letter from their personal doctor or specialist. However, sometimes their treating doctor is unaware of a specific job and the demands required performing the job. Consequently, this may cause problems for the employee upon returning to their job role.

Jobfit can assist employers with recommendations for an employee with a non-work related injury or illness. As such, our occupational health doctors will conduct a Fitness for Duty assessment.

Fitness for Duty Assessment

A Fitness for Duty is an assessment of an employee with a non-work related injury or illness. Above all, the assessment is conducted for suitability to return to a specific job role.

A non-work related injury or illness does not arise out of the normal course of employment. However, it may have the potential to impact on the health, safety and welfare of the employee or their colleagues. A non-work related injury may also have the potential to inhibit the employee’s ability to fulfill the full requirements of their substantive roles and responsibilities.

When to refer an employee for a fitness for duty assessment

An employer should refer an employee to Jobfit for a Fitness for Duty assessment when:

  • An employee has a non-work related injury or illness that may affect their ability to effectively and safely perform the inherent requirements of their role
  • When an employee resumes or intends to resume duty following an absence due to illness or injury
  • Where there is excessive absenteeism or management issues where a medical condition may be involved
  • Social factors such as alcohol or drug use
  • Psychological conditions such as non-work related mental illness or work-related stress
how our occupational health doctors can help

Our occupational health doctors will provide you with the information needed to help manage your risks and responsibilities of protecting your employees from harm or injury in the workplace. Our doctors will tailor the assessment to the individual, and will:

  • Assess your employee’s ability to perform their role
  • Provide suggestions to address the issues at hand
  • Identify all factors that influence or impact on an employee’s ability and willingness to perform their roles
  • Balance the needs of patient confidentiality, the responsibilities and information requirements of the employer, and industrial relations issues

To book a Fitness for Duty assessment with a Jobfit occupational health doctor, please contact us.

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