1 min read

Are we required to find alternate duties for workers with non-work-related injuries?

Q: We have a staff member who had shoulder surgery for an existing issue and we have him on modified duties at present, but we may not be able to provide these duties for the entire recovery time (3–6 months). Could I please get advice on the business’s requirements for finding alternate duties for staff with a non-work-related injury?

A: Although it is not a workers’ compensation matter, where additional requirements for return to work and light duties apply, you still need to ensure that you are not discriminating against the worker because of his disability.

This requires you to make reasonable accommodation for the disability (which you are doing), so long as it does not impose unjustifiable hardship on the business.

The risk you face is that the worker challenges the business on the basis of discrimination if the business asserts that it is no longer economically possible to maintain these light duties, and terminates the worker’s employment for failing to perform the inherent requirements of his role.

We recommend that you seek independent legal advice about the termination process based on the particular circumstances of the individual worker.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Workers' compensation for current advice.

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