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Suitable employment

For: Claimants Advocates

An early and successful return to work is enhanced when your employer provides you with work within your work capacity.

Suitable employment increases the likelihood of you staying at work or, if you are not working, it allows you to safely return sooner than would otherwise be possible.

When assessing the duties and job which may suit you, your employer can consider the same, a similar or a new job with the same employer or a new employer.

Providing you with suitable employment may involve:

  • modifying duties
  • modifying hours, such as graduated return to work, or
  • providing alternative duties, such as through a work trial or redeployment.

Graduated return to work

A graduated return to work is when you return to work on reduced hours or duties because you are not yet medically fit to perform your full pre-injury hours or duties.

Benefits of a graduated return

  • Allows you to return to work safely and earlier than would be possible if you had to wait to be fully recovered.
  • Helps you build or rebuild your physical and psychological ability to manage and perform tasks.
  • Helps you maintain your work habits, such as getting up to attend work, interacting with co-workers, and keeping pace with changes and developments in the workplace.

A program can support your return to work

To support a graduated return to work, a rehabilitation program may be developed for you.

Your rehabilitation program should include:

  • clearly defined goals and objectives
  • an outline of the specific duties and hours of work, and how and when it is proposed these should be upgraded
  • rest breaks
  • the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in the program.

Ideally, you would return to the same work group and perform duties within your capacity, in line with your medical practitioner’s advice regarding abilities and restrictions.

If you can’t return to your pre-injury duties, there may be an opportunity to:

  • return to another position in your organisation (through an internal placement)
  • participate in a temporary placement with another employer (through a work trial), or
  • return to work permanently with a new employer (through redeployment).

Internal placement

If you can’t return to your pre-injury duties an internal placement elsewhere in your organisation may be a possibility.

An internal placement may be on a temporary or permanent basis to help you return to work quickly and safely.

Work trial in another workplace

If suitable duties are not available within your organisation, your rehabilitation case manager may arrange a work trial with another employer.

The benefits of a work trial include:

  • rebuilding work skills, self-confidence and establishing work routines
  • improving your tolerance to the physical, psychological and cognitive aspects of work
  • gaining new work experiences, new skills and knowledge
  • creating a working relationship with a potential new employer if a return to your pre-injury workplace is not possible.


Redeployment to a new employer may be an option if you are permanently medically unable to return to work with your pre-injury employer.

When finding a role with a new employer, your age, work experience, previous training and other skills are all considered.

Activities that may support your successful redeployment include:

  • a work trial
  • transferable skills analysis
  • vocational assessment
  • work trial
  • vocational counselling
  • job seeking skills such as writing a resume, submitting job applications, interview skills
  • retraining.
Page last reviewed: 15 July 2022

GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 |

Date printed 19 May 2024