One of the common questions we are asked about an injured worker is “Can I fire them?” It may seem a little harsh at first, though there are reasons why this question comes up.
Common concerns include: an injured worker is a financial and time-consuming burden on the business; loss of an experienced worker; stress on the other worker’s handling the extra workload; the role is not being conducted to full capacity as the injured worker is on limited duties; the injured worker cannot perform their role and a replacement is required.
While these concerns are valid, there are benefits for businesses to welcome back injured return to work employees. These include:
- Showcasing to your workforce the value of employees to the business
- Maintaining an experienced and knowledgeable employee
- Reducing the cost and time of hiring and training a new replacement
- Conserving a good employer to employee connection
A misconception of an injured worker is that a considerable amount of time will be taken for the injury. SIRA (State Insurance Regulatory Authority) states the research shows that most injured workers take little or no time off work. For those that do, the vast majority (more than 80%) return to and recover at work within the first 13 weeks.
Coming back to the question of ‘Can I fire our injured worker?’ the Workers Compensation Act 1987 states “An employer must not dismiss a worker because of a work-related injury within six months from when the worker first became unfit as a result of the injury.” Doing so can result in fines and prosecutions. It is a path an employee needs to tread very carefully and should seek sound advice before doing so.
Further, employers are required to offer suitable duties and make all reasonable efforts to return an injured person to work. In, fact you might be surprised to hear that employers won’t be allowed to simply state “we don’t have any suitable duties’. In these circumstances a Workplace Rehabilitation Provider can come in to assist and identify what duties may be suitable and help develop a Return to Work Plan.
The ultimate goal for all parties is getting the worker back to work and performing their duties as soon as possible. We recommend that the employer and employee establish open communication, attend all case meetings, and embrace the process. Click here to find out the best practices for return to work employees (link to our blog).
Work Options has been a rehabilitation provider for over 20 years and we have the experience to guide businesses and employees on the quickest path to a positive outcome for all parties.
Please contact us for a friendly chat with any queries regarding how to get your employee back to work.