Policy

Medical Conditions Affecting Performance - Policy

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1. Purpose and Objectives

This policy outlines the provisions related to the management of medical conditions affecting the performance of University staff. This policy will be applied in accordance with the Enterprise Agreement and the Medical Conditions Affecting Performance Procedures.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Case Manager - representative from the Human Resources Division responsible for managing performance concerns associated with a staff member’s medical condition in consultation with the Associate Director, Workplace Relations (or their delegate).

Enterprise Agreement - The University of Queensland Enterprise Agreement 2014 - 2017

Reasonable adjustment - an adjustment is a reasonable adjustment unless making it would impose an unjustifiable hardship or involve changing the inherent requirements of a job.

Redeployment - placement of a staff member from their substantive position to a suitable alternative position.

Senior Executive –

  • professional staff – the Chief Operating Officer;
  • academic staff – the Pro-Vice-Chancellor;
  • TESOL Language Teacher staff – the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International); or
  • another senior officer nominated by the University.

3. Policy Scope/Coverage

This policy applies to all staff covered by the Enterprise Agreement.

4. Policy Statement

The University is committed to accident prevention and health promotion. However, the University recognises that despite its best efforts, some medical conditions can arise (i.e. injuries and illnesses) that affect a staff member's ability to carry out their duties. These injuries and illnesses can arise at the workplace or outside.

The University has an obligation to support and contribute to the provision of rehabilitation for all staff whose ability to carry out their duties is affected by injury or illness. The University Work Rehabilitation Policy and Procedures (PPL 2.25.02) are administered by the Occupational Health and Safety Unit, and can operate in conjunction with this policy.

The University is committed to the following priorities with respect to final outcomes of injury/illness: 

Priority 1:   The staff member returns to the same position.

Priority 2:   The staff member returns to a modified version of the same position. 

Priority 3:  The staff member is redeployed to a different position preferably within the substantive organisational unit or to another organisational unit.

Termination on the grounds of ill-health only occurs when the staff member is unable to be redeployed within the University and as a last resort.

Further details are included in the Work Rehabilitation Policy and Procedures (PPL 2.25.02).

5. Medical Advice

In order to support and contribute to the provision of rehabilitation for staff whose ability to carry out their duties is affected by an injury or illness, the University may need to consider appropriate medical information and advice.

Nothing in this policy or the associated procedures restricts any right the University may have to direct a staff member to attend a medical appointment where there are genuine occupational health and safety reasons for this. Any such direction will operate independently of this policy and not be part of the associated procedures.

5.1 Treating medical practitioner

To assist in creating a considered and personalised approach to personal injury or illness the University will appoint a Case Manager.

The Case Manager can request consent to liaise with the staff member’s treating medical practitioner(s).

The staff member is under no obligation to provide consent for the Case Manager to liaise with their treating medical practitioner. Where a staff member has provided their consent for the Case Manager to liaise with their treating medical practitioner, the staff member can withdraw their consent at any time in writing.

5.2 Independent medical examination

Where, after thorough investigation (including the processes as outlined in the Work Rehabilitation Procedures), the capacity of a staff member to perform the duties of their role is in doubt, the relevant Senior Executive may require the staff member, in writing, to undergo medical examination subject to the notice requirements contained in the Medical Conditions Affecting Performance procedures.

6. Redeployment

Attempts to redeploy an injured or ill staff member to a suitable alternative position can occur in circumstances where rehabilitation to the staff member’s substantive or modified position is unsuccessful or where the staff member agrees that the circumstances may prevent rehabilitation to the position.

Redeployment may or may not involve placement into another organisational unit, although redeployment within the substantive organisational unit is a priority.

Redeployment can be on a temporary or continuing basis. An injured or ill staff member can either seek to be, or be required to be, redeployed. In either case, the staff member will be involved in consultations with the head of organisational unit and/or supervisor, Case Manager and where appropriate, the Ergonomics and Rehabilitation Advisor.

7. Retraining

Staff unable to return to their substantive position, and unable to be redeployed to a suitable alternative position, can receive, where practicable, assistance with retraining. Priority for assistance will be given to staff who are considered to have good redeployment prospects within the University following retraining.

8. Termination of Employment

Subject to the procedural requirements contained in the Medical Conditions Affecting Performance procedures, the relevant Senior Executive can terminate the employment of a staff member on the grounds of ill-health if:

1. a medical examination reveals that the staff member is unable to perform his or her duties and is unlikely to be able to resume them within a reasonable period, being not less than 12 months; and

2. attempts to redeploy the staff member have been unsuccessful, or it is clear that no viable redeployment opportunities are available. 

Where the staff member’s superannuation fund determines that the staff member is permanently disabled, the University is entitled to consider the staff member’s employment has ceased.

At any point the staff member may elect to resign.

9. Superannuation Fund

The staff member may elect to apply to their superannuation fund, prior to the expiry of the period of notice of employment, for retirement on the grounds of ill-health or temporary disability benefit pursuant to the rules of the superannuation fund.

Where the staff member makes an application to their superannuation fund for retirement on the grounds of ill-health or temporary disability benefit prior to the medical examination(s), the staff member cannot be required to attend a medical examination(s) until one of the following occur:

1. Payment of the temporary disability benefit ceases, for a member of Unisuper or QSuper;

2. After two years of receiving a disability benefit, for a member of the University of Queensland Superannuation Plan;

3. The superannuation fund determines that the person is ineligible under the rules of the fund to receive a temporary disability benefit. This does not apply in circumstances where the staff member is on Personal (Sick) Leave but has not reached the expiry of three months qualifying period or such period of paid Personal (Sick) Leave as the fund requires.

The staff member will only be required to undergo a medical examination in these circumstances if their capacity to perform the duties of their position remains in doubt.

10. Privacy

Medical information obtained by the University will be used to assist in the management of the staff member’s medical condition in the workplace.  Any written medical information received will be filed on a confidential file (accessible only to authorised University staff) and stored securely.

Custodians
Director, Human Resources
Ms Jane Banney

Procedures

Medical Conditions Affecting Performance - Procedures

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1.  Purpose and Objectives

These procedures outline the processes related to the management of medical conditions affecting the performance of University staff. These procedures will be applied in accordance with The University of Queensland Enterprise Agreement 2010 – 2013 and the Medical Conditions Affecting Performance Policy (PPL 5.70.13a).

2.  Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Case Manager - representative from the Human Resources Division responsible for managing performance concerns associated with a staff member’s medical condition in consultation with the Associate Director, Workplace Relations (or their delegate).

Enterprise Agreement - The University of Queensland Enterprise Agreement 2010 – 2013

Reasonable adjustment - an adjustment is a reasonable adjustment unless making it would impose an unjustifiable hardship or involve changing the inherent requirements of a job.

Redeployment - placement of a staff member from their substantive position to a suitable alternative position.

Redeployee - staff member being redeployed or seeking redeployment.

Representative - Another member of staff, a union representative and/or, at the choice of the staff member(s) involved, a nominee of a party to the Enterprise Agreement provided that the representative is not a currently practicing solicitor or barrister.

Senior Executive –

  • professional staff – the Chief Operating Officer;
  • academic staff – the Pro-Vice-Chancellor;
  • TESOL Language Teacher staff – the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International); or
  • another senior officer nominated by the University.

3.  Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to all staff covered by the Enterprise Agreement.

4.  Procedures Statement

These procedures enable the University to support safe work practices and contribute to the provision of workplace rehabilitation for staff whose ability to carry out their duties is affected by injury or illness regardless of whether the injury or illness is work related.

5.  Medical Advice

The Case Manager may seek appropriate medical information and advice in order to assess the staff member’s ability or otherwise to perform the full range of duties associated with their position.

In circumstances where the staff member is confirmed to be medically fit to undertake the full range of duties associated with their position with any reasonable adjustments (as appropriate), any remaining performance concerns will be addressed in accordance with PPL 5.70.03 Diminished Performance and Unsatisfactory Performance.

5.1 Treating medical practitioner

The Case Manager may request consent to liaise with the staff member’s treating medical practitioner.

The staff member will be asked to confirm their consent to liaise with their treating medical practitioner by completing a consent form.

Where consent to liaise has been provided, the Case Manager will write to the staff member’s treating medical practitioner requesting relevant medical information and advice to assess the staff member’s ability or otherwise to perform the full range of duties associated with their position. The staff member may request a copy of the letter sent to the treating medical practitioner.

If consent is not provided, the Case manager may refer the matter to the relevant Senior Executive who can request that the staff member undergo an independent medical examination.

5.2 Independent medical examination

The relevant Senior Executive will provide a staff member with written notice of not less than one month that a medical examination is required. A copy of these procedures and policy and clause 43 of the Enterprise Agreement will be provided to the staff member at the time the notice is issued.

The independent medical examination will be undertaken and a report produced by a suitably qualified medical practitioner(s) chosen by the University and at the expense of the University. This may involve more than one consultation with more than one qualified medical practitioner where the staff member’s condition(s) requires it, and does not require a separate request for each examination.

In making an assessment as to whether or not a staff member is unable to perform his or her duties and is unlikely to be able to resume those duties within a reasonable period, the medical practitioner(s) will, as far as possible, apply the same standards as are used by the staff member's superannuation scheme, if any, in determining qualification for the payment of a disablement pension or other similar benefit.

The relevant Senior Executive may construe a failure by a staff member to undergo a medical examination in accordance with these procedures as prima facie evidence that such medical examination would have found that the staff member is unable to perform his or her duties and is unlikely to be able to resume them within 12 months and may act accordingly, provided that such a refusal by a staff member in these circumstances will not constitute misconduct nor lead to any greater penalty or loss of entitlements than would have resulted from an adverse medical report.

5.2.1 Independent medical report

A meeting between the staff member and the Case Manager will normally be convened upon receipt of the independent medical report. The report provided by the independent medical practitioner(s) is the property of the University. Subject to the independent medical practitioner’s consent and the University’s release conditions, the staff member will be provided with a copy of any independent medical report.

Where the independent medical practitioner does not provide consent for the report to be accessed by the staff member, a copy of the report may be provided to the staff member’s treating medical practitioner.

If the independent medical examination report reveals that the staff member is unable to perform their duties and is unlikely to be able to resume them within a reasonable period, being not less than 12 months, the relevant Senior Executive can:

  1. redeploy the staff member to a commensurate position at the same classification level within the University; or 
  2. redeploy the staff member to a position at a lower classification level with salary maintenance for a period of three months; or
  3. if the University is unable to redeploy the staff member, terminate the employment of the staff member in accordance with the notice required in the staff member’s contract of employment or, where no notice is specified, in accordance with clause 42.2 of the Enterprise Agreement.

If the independent medical examination report reveals that the staff member is able to perform their duties and is fit to return to work then the supervisor will be provided with assistance from Employee Relations in managing the staff member’s return to work.

6.  Redeployment

The University will make reasonable attempts to find a suitable alternative position for the staff member on either a temporary or continuing basis.

Redeployment within the University will be given priority over redeployment outside. In the event that the latter is being considered, the University will make available reasonable opportunities for the staff member to seek suitable outside employment. Support in the form of vocational assessments and preliminary guidance from the University's Work Management Injury Team may also be available for staff on workers' compensation.

If a person is redeployed to a position for which the prescribed rate of pay is greater than their current position, the higher rate of pay will apply from the date of redeployment.

If a person is redeployed to a position for which the prescribed rate of pay is less than their current position, the former higher rate of pay will continue for a period of three months from the date of redeployment.

Work-related allowances will be taken into account when determining the prescribed rate of pay.

6.1 Relevant information

Where appropriate, the Ergonomics and Rehabilitation Adviser will provide to the Case Manager a statement on the staff member's functional capacities and limitations that are associated with the medical condition.

The Case Manager will meet with the staff member to ascertain:

  • career interests and job preferences;
  • qualifications, skills knowledge and experience; and
  • personal qualities.

The staff member's head of organisational unit and supervisors (where appropriate) will provide an up-to-date assessment of the staff member’s work performance to the Case Manager.

The staff member will be required to provide an up-to-date curriculum vitae to the Case Manager (assistance will be provided in compiling one if necessary).

6.2 Redeployment search

The staff member will not be required to compete in open competition against external or internal applicants (other than other staff seeking redeployment in accordance with University policy and the Enterprise Agreement), however they will be required to meet the requirements of the position including selection criteria; or be capable of meeting them within a three month period.

The redeployment search period will be for a period of 25 working days with consideration of the Christmas/New Year period where applicable.

The Case Manager will ensure requests for job advertisements are monitored to identify whether appropriate redeployment opportunities are or may become available. If a vacant position is available which conforms to medical specifications, and for which the injured staff member has appropriate qualifications, skills, experience and references, the Case Manager will approach and discuss with the relevant head of the organisational unit concerned an appointment to the position on either a temporary or continuing basis as appropriate.

6.3 Consideration

If a potentially suitable position is identified, the Case Manager will approach the head of organisational unit concerned and request that the staff member be considered for the position in isolation from other applicants (if that position has already been advertised). If an interview of the staff member is required, the Case Manager will be on the selection panel.

If the staff member seeking redeployment is unsuccessful when considered for a position, feedback will be provided. Assistance may also be provided to the staff member in the form of interview skills coaching.

If the head of an organisational unit receiving the redeployee is agreeable to accepting a redeployee, an assessment of the position will be conducted in conjunction with the injured/ill staff member and the head of the organisational unit and/or supervisor of the position. Any potential barriers to successful redeployment will be identified, and steps taken to address these where practicable.

6.4 Trial period

If an assessment indicates that redeployment is feasible and acceptable to all parties, the injured/ill staff member will undertake the position on a trial basis.

In the case of redeployment on a temporary basis the length of the trial will be determined by the parties involved in establishing the redeployment program.

In the case of redeployment on a continuing basis the length of the trial will be for three months.

6.5 Redeployment - temporary

Temporary redeployment will be for a period of six months or less. Temporary redeployment can be extended beyond this time if all parties involved (including the injured/ill staff member) are in agreement. Staff who are temporarily redeployed retain their substantive position.

Injured/ill staff seeking temporary redeployment can be temporarily redeployed to:

  1. an advertised vacant position; or
  2. a position that has been established expressly for the purposes of redeployment. The Associate Director, Workplace Relations can circulate requests to heads of organisational units seeking expressions of interest from those who may be able to utilise  a staff member on a temporary basis.

6.6 Redeployment - continuing

Redeployment on a continuing basis can occur if one of the following conditions applies:

  1. Medical advice confirms that the injured staff member should not or will be unable to return to their substantive duties as a permanent restriction; or
  2. Medical advice indicates that the injured/ill staff member is fit to return to their substantive duties, but notwithstanding, attempted return-to-work programs have been unsuccessful.

Not less than two weeks prior to the end of the trial period, the redeployee's performance will be assessed by the supervisor and/or the head of the organisational unit and a formal report outlining the details of the redeployee's performance against the duties of the position will be submitted to the Executive Dean/ Chief Operating Officer. If the performance has been satisfactory, the redeployee will be offered the position on a continuing basis. If the performance has been unsatisfactory, steps will be taken to terminate employment on the grounds of ill health as applicable.

7.  Retraining

If a suitable alternative position is available and it is practicable for the staff member to be retrained for that position within a reasonable period, then the necessary training will be carried out by the University during normal work hours and at the University's expense. If internal University training needs to be supplemented by externally-provided training, all reasonable costs of such additional external training can be met by the University.

For staff in receipt of workers' compensation, the University Work Injury Management Team can consider, on a case specific basis, financial assistance for short term retraining for up to four months (e.g. short certificate courses, TAFE courses, licenses etc).

For staff not in receipt of workers' compensation (either because they are not eligible or their claim has ceased), the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (http://www.crsaustralia.gov.au/) may be able to offer financial assistance for retraining programs.

Further details regarding the above are available from the Ergonomics and Rehabilitation Adviser.

8.  Superannuation Fund

A staff member who receives a temporary disability benefit from their superannuation fund will not accrue leave entitlements during this period.

9.  Termination of Employment

Termination of employment must be in accordance with the notice requirements contained in the staff member’s contract of employment or where no notice is specified, in accordance with clause 42.2 of the Enterprise Agreement.

9.1 Resignation

Prior to taking action to terminate the employment of a staff member, the relevant Senior Executive can offer the staff member the opportunity to submit a resignation and, if such resignation is offered, accept it and not proceed with action to terminate employment.

9.2 Review

If, within 30 working days of the independent medical report being made available, the staff member or their Representative so requests, the relevant Senior Executive will not redeploy the staff member or terminate the employment of the staff member unless and until the findings of the independent medical report are confirmed by a panel consisting of the following:

  1. a medical practitioner appointed by the University;
  2. a medical practitioner appointed by the staff member or by their Representative; and
  3. a medical practitioner appointed by the President of the State Branch of the Australian Medical Association. 

The panel will not include the practitioner who made the initial medical report. 

The right to request a review is subject to contrary medical evidence that the staff member is able to perform their duties, or likely to resume them, within a period of 12 months.

In making an assessment as to whether or not a staff member is unable to perform their duties and is unlikely to be able to resume those duties within a reasonable period, the review panel of medical practitioners will as far as possible apply the same standards as are used by the staff member's superannuation scheme, if any, in determining qualification for the payment of a disablement pension or other similar benefit.

These provisions will not displace or over-ride any workers’ compensation schemes or relevant legislation either State or Federal.

Custodians
Director, Human Resources
Ms Jane Banney
Custodians
Director, Human Resources
Ms Jane Banney