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Worker got by with a little help from his friends

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A Full Bench of FWA has overturned a decision of a Commissioner ruling that a brewery’s sacking of a worker on restricted duties was unfair. The Commissioner held that he was able to carry out his duties by having other workers lifting weights over 5kg for him. The Commissioner ordered that the worker be re-instated as there was no valid reason for his dismissal.

The Full Bench held that the worker could not perform the inherent requirements of the original full duties. It was not sufficient that the worker had been carrying the modified duties for a considerable period. The medical evidence established that he would be restricted in his duties indefinitely. Workplace consultants’ evidence established that the inherent requirements of the job could not be achieved without the lifting. The Full Bench found that the employer had a valid reason to dismiss the worker and sent the matter back to a different Commissioner to determine whether the dismissal was harsh.

Lessons for Employers

  1. Prepare accurate job descriptions for all employees from the commencement of employment
  2. Ensure that injured employees are provided with reasonable assistance to perform their duties for a reasonable time. This can be a very expensive obligation to be met.
  3. Obtain appropriate medical and occupational consultancy advice as to whether the injured employee will be able to carry out the inherent requirements of the job description in the long term

For further information please contact one of our Workplace Relations lawyers.

Author: Charles Cody