Case highlights the management of an employee who has sustained non-work related injury.
This company was a medium sized business that involved the manufacturing of mechanical parts.
- Small to medium
- 40 staff
- Reporting to: Production Manager
- On site consultation
- Drafting of correspondence
- Telephone advice
- In-house corporate training for staff and managers
An employee working as a machine operator sustained an injury involving a slipped vertebra while moving furniture in their house. This resulted in the employee requiring significant time off work and eventually undergoing a surgery to repair a tear. The employee, who did not have income protection, was unable to work for a period exceeding four months.
The employee had exhausted all their sick and annual leave entitlements.
After their entitlements ran out, the employee was still not fit to return to their pre-injury duties. The employee sought leave without pay for a further two months, as well as providing a medical certificate from their treating surgeon.
The employer sought assistance from insyncHR regarding their options, as the employee’s position was being backfilled by another employee. Could the employer terminate the employee and employ a new worker, or were they obliged to authorise the leave without pay and hold the employee’s position open?
Given that the employee would be able to return to work within a further eight weeks, the employer was not able to terminate the position. The employer was, however, entitled to seek further medical information from the employee’s doctor and surgeon regarding treatment, prognosis and capacity to return to the substantive role.
Legally, an employee cannot be terminated from their position unless they have been absent from the workplace (i.e. on leave without pay) for more than three months.
Including a contract term considering this scenario in an employee’s contract of employment is the best way to start. This will give the employer more options.