When you are injured as a result of a road accident, you may have to take time off work. If your injury is preventing you from returning to work, your employer is not required by law, to keep your role open (although many will do their best to support you). In this blog, we look at your rights, entitlements and obligations regarding your employment after a motor vehicle accident.
Can my employer terminate my employment if I can’t return to work?
But this depends on your existing employment relationship with your employer.
Permanent employees (full-time and part-time)
If you are a permanent employee and have accrued paid annual and/or sick leave, you can opt to use those leave entitlements whilst you recover from your accident injuries.
However, once you have exhausted your paid leave entitlements and require more time off work to recover, you should discuss the possibility of taking unpaid sick leave with your employer.
If your treating doctors advise that you’re unlikely to resume a capacity to return to work for a significant amount of time, your employer may not be in a position to keep you on as an employee.
If your employer terminates your employment, you should seek further advice from an employment law specialist such as JobWatch (free service) to protect your interests.
If you were employed on a causal basis prior to your transport accident, you will not have any accrued paid annual or sick leave.
The nature of your casual employment means that you’re not entitled to ongoing employment or certainty in the days, hours or shifts you work. However, due to the flexible work arrangements, your employer may be more than happy to offer you shifts once you’ve resumed a capacity to return to work.
However, as a casual employee, your employer does not have to give you notice before terminating your employment. You can learn more about this on the JobWatch website here.
What TAC benefits can I access whilst I’m unable to return to work?
If you are unable to return to work after a road accident due to your accident-related injuries, the TAC can pay you loss of earning (LOE) benefits which equates to 80% of your pre-injury income for a maximum of 18 months. The TAC will not pay for you LOE benefits for the first 5 days post-accident unless you can show financial hardship.
If you’re unable to return to work after 18 months after your transport accident, the TAC can pay you loss of earning capacity benefits for an additional 18 months.
The TAC can also pay for your reasonable medical and like expenses which relate to your accident-related injuries.
For more detailed information about all your potential entitlements and benefits under TAC, visit our FAQ on TAC benefits here.
What are my return to work obligations?
If your treating doctor provides a certificate of capacity confirming that you have resumed either a partial or full capacity to return to work, you must make reasonable attempts to return to work.
Failure to do so can result in the TAC suspending or ceasing payment of your loss of earning or loss of earning capacity benefits. To avoid this, you should stay in touch with your employer and discuss return to work options with them and the TAC. If your employer requires assistance, the TAC can also provide a range of supports to your employer during your return to work process.
Returning to work support
If your previous employer cannot facilitate for your return to work and you need help finding a new role with another employer, you should contact the TAC for assistance.
The TAC can offer prospective new employers assistance to help you transition back to work.
The TAC can also refer you to a return to work specialist who can give you recommendations and help put together a return to work plan. Visit the TAC website here for more specific information about TAC supports for injured people returning to work.