What are “Suitable Duties”?

If you’ve been hurt at work and aren’t well enough to do your normal job but you can do some sort of work, then you’ll probably find yourself back at work on “suitable duties”. So what are “suitable duties” and do you have to do them?

“Suitable duties” are duties that have been identified to accommodate your work restrictions due to your injury and to help you get back to work. These duties can be in an existing role at work or they can be a role created by the employer to assist you in your efforts to rehabilitate and return to work. Sometimes a rehabilitation provider is involved in helping the employer and the injured worker to identify suitable duties within the workplace.

Your employer must give you suitable duties unless they can prove that alternative duties are not possible. Before you get back to work on suitable duties, your employer must give you a return to work plan and your treating doctor must sign off on the plan to say that you are medically fit to perform the duties listed in the plan. Your employer can’t make you work outside the requirements of the return to work plan. You also have to follow the return to work plan as it’s important that you don’t perform any tasks that are likely to aggravate your injury.

The changes to the workers compensation laws in NSW mean that injured workers are under even more pressure to return to work as soon as possible after being injured. Employers are understandably wary of having injured workers return to work too soon because they don’t want to see them injured further. These competing interests can result in disputes between employers and injured workers.

If you need to return to work on suitable duties and need some advice on what to you need to do, contact us.