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Suitable duties

Suitable duties are an important part of supporting you to recover at work.

Depending on your personal situation, getting you back to your normal job role or duties after a work-related injury or illness might take some time. This doesn’t mean you can’t get back to work though. Your employer should encourage you back to work as soon as you’re able and let you do different work if needed.

What does ’suitable duties’ mean?

Some injuries might mean it’s not safe or possible for you to do the tasks that are part of your normal job. Your employer needs to find other work for you to do, if they can. This is called ’suitable duties’ or is sometimes also called ’alternative duties’.

Even though you’re injured, your employer understands there are still ways you can contribute positively to your workplace. They’ll look at your skills and experience when it comes to finding other tasks for you.

If you’re not provided with suitable duties at work, you might need to stay away from work longer while you get better. This is not good for your health and wellbeing and will affect your recovery.

There are lots of proven benefits to suitable duties, for both you and your employer.

Benefits for workers

  • You’re able to keep up a routine.
  • You still have your income while you get better.
  • You’ll regain confidence in your work and get stronger gradually.
  • You might develop or even learn new skills.

Benefits for employers

  • The effect on your insurance premium is reduced.
  • The level of skill and expertise in your workforce stays the same or is strengthened.
  • No need to train new staff, which takes extra resources.

Depending on your workplace, you may be assigned a Rehabilitation and Return to Work Coordinator. They’ll work with you to put together a plan that's right for your situation and workplace. If one isn’t assigned, WorkCover or an independent provider can also assist with putting the plan together. It will then be approved by your doctor.

We’ll go through this further with you on the Suitable duties plan page. For more information on why it’s so beneficial to be back at work, you can take a look at a study on the health benefits of good work.

What if suitable duties are not available?

There might be some cases where your employer can’t offer suitable duties for safety or practical reasons. This doesn’t mean you have to stay at home until you are fully recovered.

Recover at Work is a temporary program that allows you to work for a host employer while you recover. The program is supported by WorkCover, or your usual employer if they are self-insured, and means you can make use of your skills and abilities and maintain an income until you’re able to go back to your normal job.

There are lots of benefits to you, your usual employer and the host employer. Find out more about the Recover at Work program.

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