Workplace Injuries and Taking Leave
Employees who are injured at work have access to ten days of paid ‘personal/carer’s leave’, which can be taken by anyone who is unwell for work because of an illness or injury. This leave does not usually accrue from year to year. Independent contractors do not have access to personal leave.
If you are informed that a worker has suffered an injury at work, you must provide the employee with your insurance details. You must also notify your insurer of the injury within 48 hours. Workers can make a workers compensation claim within six months of the injury occurring.
If your insurer accepts the worker’s insurance claim, your insurer will make weekly income support payments to the worker until he or she returns to work. In certain circumstances, the worker may be entitled to other compensation.
Injury Management Plans
If a worker makes a workers compensation claim, and the insurer is of the opinion that the worker will not be fit for work for a period of seven days or more because of the injury, the insurer will work with the worker to develop an injury management plan to help facilitate the worker’s gradual return to work.
As an employer, you are required to cooperate with the insurer and worker in establishing the injury management plan, and comply with any obligations that are imposed on you under that plan.
Providing Suitable Work
Where an injured worker is able to return to work, the employer has an obligation to provide him or her with ‘suitable employment’. The phrase ‘suitable employment’ refers to a job or role to which the worker is suited, having regard to his or her capacity, age, education, skills, work experience and injury management plan. It must be as similar to the worker’s pre-injury role as is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.
Employers need to be flexible when identifying suitable employment. They need to be open to inventing new roles for their workers. They may be required to give workers jobs or roles that are different from those that were carried our prior to the injury. In some circumstances, the job or role given to the worker may be a role which was not carried out by anyone prior to the injury.
Return to Work Programs
All employers are required by law to have a return to work program. A return to work program is a formal policy that outlines how an employer will assist injured employees to return to work after their injury. The guidelines with which return to work programs must comply are quite prescriptive. They can be found the State Insurance Regulatory Authority website.
Employers who want to dismiss injured employees find themselves surrounded by a range of legal tripwires. Though it is possible in some circumstances, it should not be done without legal advice. Read our article ‘Can you dismiss an employee because they are injured?‘ and our Managers Tool Kit to get some basic information.
Get in Touch
John Morrissey has been a practising Sydney solicitor for 30 years, and for the past 20 a sole practitioner and the principal at JFMLAW.
His main focus employment law, advising small to medium-sized firms and their employees of their rights and obligations.
For many years he was a lecturer at UTS to students obtaining Masters in Human Resources Management with a focus on performance management and creating a culture of delivery in workplaces. John has acted for a significant number of employers, not only in developing a performance based culture in the workplace but also solving particular problems that arise relating to unfair dismissal, contract disputes, improper use of intellectual property or other property as well as enforcements of restraints of trade.
John is very happy to speak to any employer who has an issue on a free of charge basis by a phone call. Please feel free to ring John at anytime up to 6pm most days.
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