What to do if a worker is unfit for work
By Joanna Weekes
Have you ever suspected that a worker is not fit for their duties? If so, what did you do? Did you send the worker home? With or without pay?
It’s important to know you rights and responsibilities when it comes to workers who are not fit to be at work.
So what are they?
You are legally required to create a safe and healthy working environment for your workers and others in the workplace.
Part of this duty is to monitor your workers’ health and make sure they are fit for work.
What should you do?
If you have reasonable grounds for suspecting a worker is unfit for work, you can direct them to go home on full pay until they are fit to return. Sending a worker home without pay may be considered a breach of the employment contract, the Fair Work Act and/or any underlying award.
Remember, some workplaces and work tasks are more high-risk than others. If your workers work in a high-risk environment, it is even more important to monitor them to ensure they are fit for work because the likelihood of the risk occurring is increased and the consequences if it does are worse.
But be careful!
Sending a worker home is a very delicate situation which could expose your company to a breach of contract, unfair dismissal claim, discrimination claim or general protections claim. All of which you want to avoid!
So manage each individual situation carefully to prevent the risk of claims arising – and remember, if you are unsure about something, the safest option is to seek legal guidance.
From the experts behind the Health & Safety Handbook, the Bulletin brings you the latest work health and safety news, legal updates, case law and practical advice straight to your inbox every week.