Managing non-work-related injuries in the workplace

Managing non-work-related injuries in the workplace

December 29, 2017 | By Charlene Woodbine, Vitil

Consider this hypothetical scenario...

Over the last three months, you have noticed that Bob has called in sick for work quite frequently. When he is at work, he doesn't seem to be engaged and isn't productive. Your efforts at speaking to him haven't improved the situation. Bob presents a Doctor's certificate certifying him unfit for work for 3 weeks. Bob reluctantly shares that he suffers from a mental health condition that makes him unmotivated to come to work and he finds it difficult to concentrate when he is at work.

Most Perth small business are well aware of the workers compensation framework in WA that governs injuries that occur in the workplace. However, when it comes to managing non-work-related illness or injury, it appears that the rules are not as clear.

"As a Perth small business, how much of this do I need to carry?"

"How do I balance the operational requirements of my business and the need to support a valued employee who is unfit for work?"

These are common questions for Vitil's Human Resources Services Perth team. As a business owner, it is wise to seek advice from a HR professional in relation to the best way to manage this issue. Getting HR advice at the outset could significantly reduce the risk of a claim by a disgruntled employee and save you dollars in defending the claim.

Here are some practical tips to manage this situation:

  • Ensure that you meet with the employee to determine the extent of the employee's illness/injury and the impact this will have on their role. You should only meet with the employee if the employee has been certified fit, in writing, by a Medical Practitioner to meet with you
  • Consider whether the employee has sufficient leave accruals to cover all or part of their absence and consult the employee in relation to the use of leave accruals to cover their absence
  • Ask the employee if they require any additional support during this time. If you have access to an EAP provider, consider referring the employee to the service for additional support
  • Ensure that you obtain medical certificates from the employee to cover their full absence
  • Touch base with the employee whilst they are absent from work to enquire how they are going
  • When the employee is ready, have a discussion about what a return to work schedule will look like
  • Ensure that the employee provides a medical certificate certifying them fully fit to perform all duties, before they return to work
  • Force the employee to return to work whilst they are certified unfit
  • Terminate the employee because they are unable to perform their role in the short term. Remember the Fair Work Act prevents an employer from dismissing an employee where the employee is temporarily absent from work because of a prescribed illness or injury
  • Don't take any action against the employee because of their illness/ injury. This includes. Doing so could give an employee grounds to bring an adverse action or general protections claim under the Fair Work Act
Vitil Human Resource Consultants

Vitil's Human Resource Consultants are a boutique HR consulting firm based across Perth, who offer flexible, reliable and affordable outsourced human resource support and recruitment services, where your team is the key focus.

By outsourcing HR to an expert in Human Resource Services, our experienced professionals can objectively assess your environment, your human capital needs, and ensure you recruit to further develop your businesses performance.

Contact us to discuss tailoring HR solutions to your business needs.

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