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Can we make adjustments recommended by an acupuncturist?

Q: I have a certificate from a registered Chinese medical practitioner (listed on the Australian Medical Association website) recommending that we get a medicine ball for our staff member to sit on to help her with a pre-existing back injury.

Should we consider this doctor’s recommendation? Is it the same as getting this recommendation from a GP? In legal terms, I’m not sure what the status of Chinese medical practitioners who specialise in acupuncture is. Does their advice hold up legally if we implement the changes and they exacerbate the staff member’s condition?

We also have a certificate from a GP, which states that the staff member is fit for work, but suggests regular periods of standing, with no mention of sitting on a medicine ball.

A: It does not matter so much that the certificate and recommendation is from a Chinese medical practitioner. Employers must make reasonable adjustments for their workers in relation to any conditions or injuries. The use of a medicine ball as recommended by a medical practitioner could be considered a reasonable adjustment that you could make. We do, however, suggest that you work with the worker to come up with the most practical and safe solution for dealing with her condition.

Before arranging for a medicine ball, it would be prudent to ensure that such use will not exacerbate her condition, or provide a risk to her health and safety. It might be worthwhile to request that the worker allows you to discuss this recommendation with her GP, or ask the worker to seek her GP’s advice. In discussions with the worker, it would be worth highlighting that her health and safety is your priority.

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