Food retailer fined over return-to-work offences

A company selling nuts, dried fruits and candies in shopping centres has been convicted and fined a total of $60,000 for seven return-to-work offences relating to an injured worker.


John's Nuts Operations Pty Ltd, which is in liquidation and did not attend the hearings at Sunshine Magistrate's Court, was convicted and sentenced for five contraventions of Section 179(3) of the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act and single contraventions of Section 104(1) and 105 (1) of the same Act.

The charges related to making late payments to an injured worker and failing to provide them with suitable employment.

The court heard that WorkSafe received a complaint in April last year regarding a worker who sustained work related tendonitis after working for the company since November 2013.

The company made an initial weekly payment to the injured worker on time, but five subsequent payments were made outside the statutory time limit.

When WorkSafe investigators attended the workplace they found the company had also failed to plan the worker's return to work and to consult with them about their return.

WorkSafe's Executive Director, Insurance Business Unit, Shane O'Dea, said it was vital that injured workers were paid promptly and that appropriate plans were put in place to aid their return to work.

"Not providing injured workers with timely payments and failing to consult with them about their return to work can cause significant added hardship and stress to a worker and their family," Mr O'Dea said.

"Such failures can also be detrimental to a worker’s prospects of recovery and ultimate return to work."

"Most employers actively support an injured worker to recover and return to work, recognising it also makes good business sense."

"WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute those employers who disregard their obligations to injured workers."

When assisting employees return to work employers should:

  • Obtain relevant information about the worker's capacity for work.
  • Consider reasonable workplace support, aids or modifications to assist a worker's return to work.
  • Assess and propose options for suitable employment or pre-injury employment.
  • Consult with the worker, treating health practitioner and occupational rehabilitation provider.
  • Provide workers with clear, accurate and current details of their return to work arrangements.
  • Monitor the worker's progress.
  • In situations where a worker has no current work capacity, employers must still plan for their return to work.