The Dismissal of Workers Covered by Return to Work Provisions under Workers Compensation Laws



In Australia, all states have enacted provisions that attempt to provide some employment security for workers who are disabled by injury or disease. Return to work provisions enacted under workers compensation legislation characteristically require the employer to attempt to re–employ a disabled worker provided they are able to return to some form of work within 12 months from the date of injury or disease onset. 1 The clear intention of these provisions is to provide some employment security for workers, reduce the costs of compensation claims by enhancing rehabilitation and minimise disruption in the workforce through retraining of new workers. The obligations on employers to return disabled workers to work usually do not apply if it is not ‘reasonably practicable’ to provide ‘suitable duties’ or if the worker has been dismissed on the grounds of ‘serious and wilful misconduct ’.