We have an employee who has been off on workers’ compensation for 5 months. There is no indication of him returning to work anytime soon. Are we able to terminate his employment? Our business operates in Queensland.
In Queensland, an employer must not dismiss a worker within 12 months of them sustaining an injury solely or mainly because the worker is not fit for employment in a position because of the injury (see section 232B Workers’ Compensation & Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld)). Therefore, you cannot terminate the employment of an injured worker who has been on workers’ compensation for 5 months.
It is worth noting that employers are permitted to hire a replacement worker while an injured worker is not fit for employment. Before a replacement worker starts employment, you must give the replacement worker a written notice informing them of the temporary nature of the employment and the injured worker’s right to return to work (see section 232B Workers’ Compensation & Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld)).