Optimising return to work labour hire case study

This case study highlights agency and host employer responsibilities when it comes to supporting employees who have been injured at work.



A concreter was placed with a host company whose founder is a vocal advocate for health and safety since losing an arm in a workplace accident.

After only a week on the job, the concreter tripped over a wheelbarrow at work and fractured her tibia. She needed immediate surgery and was declared unfit to work for a month.


The labour hire provider investigated the incident and concluded the labour hire worker ignored signage for pedestrians, which led to the accident. During this time, the labour hire worker developed an infection as a result of the injury, which extended her period of being unfit to work by another six weeks.

The labour hire provider dismissed the labour hire worker and placed a new concreter in her place.

The founder of the host company was furious when he heard the first concreter had been dismissed.

Next steps

The host's founder met with the labour hire provider's owner and insisted they both had a duty to support the concreter to return to work based on her capacity, as assessed by her treating doctor.

The founder was adamant they perform their duty to support the concreter's return to work because he attributed his success in business to the support he received from his employer after losing his arm.

Eventually, the labour hire provider's owner admitted he did not have the relevant insurance and that was why he felt unable to support the concreter's return-to-work plan.


The host's founder terminated the contract with the labour hire provider and supported the concreter returning to work as a direct employee.

The host employer also reported the labour hire provider to WorkSafe for breaching its duties to support the concreter's return to work.

A fine and conviction was recorded against the labour hire provider, which has since ceased to operate.

Labour hire provider improvements

  • As the employer, register for Victorian WorkCover insurance and declare the correct rateable remuneration.
  • Appoint a return-to-work coordinator to help the labour hire provider meet its return-to-work obligations.
  • So far as reasonably practicable, consult, coordinate and cooperate with the host employer on occupational health and safety (OHS) matters under a shared duty to employees.
  • Make return-to-work information available to all employees, including information about the provider's obligations as an employer.
  • Plan for employees' return to work, including providing reasonable workplace support or modifications.
  • Consult with employees and their treating health practitioners about the return-to-work process.
  • Keep records relating to employee health and safety.
  • Monitor the health of employees.

Host employer improvements

  • So far as reasonably practicable, consult, coordinate and cooperate with the provider in meeting its return-to-work obligations to facilitate labour hire workers' return to work.
  • Provide the labour hire provider with reasonable access to the workplace.
  • Provide options for suitable duties at the host workplace, consistent with the injured labour hire worker's capacity.
  • Ensure all employees understand how they can raise health and safety issues at work, such as via their health and safety representative.
  • Keep records relating to employee health and safety.
  • Monitor the health of employees.

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