Termination of Employment – Protection for Injured Workers

What Qualifies as Wrongful Termination?

If a worker has a work related injury and can’t work in their usual job, their employer cannot use this as a reason to dismiss them within 12 months of the injury. If you were let go as a result of your injury within this period, then this would classify as wrongful termination and your former employer could incur a fine.
 
 

How Are Workers Protected From Wrongful Termination After A Work-Related Injury?

Dismissal protection for workers is created under the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003. If an employer terminates a worker in breach of this legislation, then the employer is exposed to a maximum penalty of almost $5,000.00.

If the employer refuses to take the worker back, then the worker has the option of going to QCAT to obtain an order that the employer return them to their job.

If QCAT agrees that the worker is capable of returning to their old job, QCAT can order the employer to take the worker back and set terms, like for example a start date.

A worker or employer unhappy with a decision by QCAT has the right of appeal to the Industrial Court of Queensland.
 

 

Returning To Work After Your Injury

A worker can ask their employer to return them to their old job within 12 months of the injury. A doctor’s medical certificate needs to be supplied to the employer proving that the worker is fit to return to their job.
 
 

Can You Get Fired For An Injury Outside of Work?

Even if your injury was sustained outside of your working environment, your working arrangements are still protected subject to some conditions.

In Australia, it is unlawful to discriminate against employee because of an injury or an illness, even those that were not sustained in the workplace. As an employee, you do have some responsibilities to uphold if you want to protect yourself from termination. This is most relevant during extended periods of injury or illness that are preventing you from working.

Here’s what you need to consider:

  1. Your total time spent away from work should not exceed 3 consecutive months, or total 3 months within a 12 month period.
  2. You need to provide ongoing evidence of your ailment, often in the form of a doctor’s certificate.

If these conditions are not being met, then your employer may be forced to find a replacement for your position. Your absence may be causing the workload of other employees to increase and hindering on normal process, and your employer would be within their rights to find someone else. This, however, varies on a case-by-case basis. If you were meeting these conditions but you have been let go, then you may have been wrongfully dismissed.

If you have been wrongfully dismissed as a result of an injury, we can help to bring forward a claim against your former employer. Find more information about how we can help in unfair dismissals after injury and contact us for a free consultation today!

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