Know your rights: non work injuries

June 22, 2023 Our Resources

By Darryn Gaffy,
SDA Industrial Officer

Whether it happened at work or outside of work, recovering from an injury and returning to work can be stressful. It’s important you know what your rights are if you injure yourself outside of work.

What is a non-work injury?

A non-work injury is any injury that occurs outside of your workplace. Injuries that occur at work, even if they occur during a break, when you are “off the clock”, or on the journey to or from work, may still be considered a workplace injury and you might be eligible for workers compensation.

Regardless of how serious the injury is, your employer has an obligation to support you in your return to work and provide you with alternative arrangements where possible.

Do I need a full medical clearance before I can return to work?

You don’t necessarily need a full medical clearance to return to work after an injury.

If you work in retail, warehousing or fast food, a full medical clearance may not be necessary for you to return to work, as long as you can safely perform the inherent requirements of your role.

If you’re getting push back from your employer about returning to work, you should ask your doctor for a medical certificate outlining all of the duties that you can safely perform and what reasonable adjustments are required for you to safely return to work.

Can I be terminated because of my injury?

Temporary absence from work due to an injury is not considered valid reason for termination.

As long as you are able to perform the inherent requirements of your role, your employer cannot discriminate against you because of an injury – even if it’s a permanent injury.

Your employer must consider making reasonable adjustments to your role to allow you to perform the inherent requirements of your job if you’re injured.

You can only be terminated from your employment if:

  • You’re unable to perform the inherent requirements of your role, even with reasonable adjustments
  • The necessary adjustments would cause undue financial hardship on the business

What can I do if I’m being discriminated against because of a non-work injury?

If you’ve been discriminated against at work or terminated on the basis of your injury, you might be eligible to lodge a Disability Discrimination Claim and the SDA Industrial Team is here to help.