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Identifying suitable duties

Injured employees who are given suitable duties when they return to work are more likely to be able to sustain their return.

Suitable duties are those that meet an employee's capacities, skills and experience and take into account any medical limitations. Providing suitable duties may involve modifying duties, providing alternative ones or changing hours while on a return to work plan.

Return to work hierarchy

When working out what suitable duties might suit a returning worker, the following possibilities should be considered:

  • same job/same employer
  • similar job/same employer
  • new job/same employer
  • same job/new employer
  • similar job/new employer
  • new job/new employer.

Within the work group

Ideally, an injured employee would return to the same work group and carry out duties within their capacity, in line with the treating practitioner’s advice regarding abilities and restrictions.

To do this, alternative or modified duties may need to be arranged.

Within the organisation

If an injured employee can’t return to their pre-injury duties, there might be an opportunity elsewhere in the organisation. Internal placement may be on a temporary basis to return the worker quickly and safely.

Where it seems likely the employee will not be able to return to their pre-injury duties, internal redeployment may be permanent.

Work trials

Case managers might try to negotiate a work trial in another agency or in alternative employment if suitable duties are not available within the organisation.

Agencies may arrange for injured employees on work trials to continue to be paid by the original agency, pending permanent placement.


Redeployment to a new employer happens when an injured employee is permanently medically unable to return to work with their pre-injury employer.

A statement of an agency's policy regarding inter-agency redeployment provides a powerful message to staff of management's commitment to rehabilitation and gives case managers a wider range of options to find suitable employment for injured employees.

Page last updated: 08 May 2014