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Return to work: can we change job role?

Can we shift a worker on restricted duties to a different role?
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Return to work: can we change job role?

Return to work: can we change job role?

9 July 2020

By Gaby Grammeno

If a worker is on a restricted duties because of an injury, can we shift them to a different role?

This question was recently sent to our Workplace Advice Line.

Q An employee who is on workers comp has returned to work, albeit in a restricted capacity. They are complaining of constant pain and we would like to move them into another position where they could be better supported. Can we enforce this change and, if so, would we need to provide notice? They are employed under the Registered Clubs Award.

A The employer should work with the employee's return to work coordinator and workers compensation insurer to support them in their return to work. Moving a worker to another position to assist this process is not unusual. The worker should be included in any decision-making and be given notice and clear communication about the different role and the length of time they will be required to work in that role.

It is important to note that while an employee may be performing suitable duties within the scope of any medical restrictions (which often may mean working across roles), an employer cannot change an employee’s contracted position without consultation and mutual agreement.

Return to work is covered by workers compensation legislation which varies by state and provides for the safe return to work of an injured worker as early as possible allowing for their injury.

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