Disability and temporary benefits pensioners — return to work
The Department has statutory obligations under Section 76 of the State Superannuation Act 1988 in respect of:
- employees receiving a temporary benefit who have been medically assessed as fit to return to work by Emergency Services and State Super (ESSS), and
- pensioners under the age of 60 receiving a disability retirement benefit who have been medically assessed as fit to return to work by ESSS
Section 76(2) of the State Superannuation Act 1988 requires that a disability pensioner found fit to return to duty be offered employment by an employing authority. The Act also requires that the employment offered be of comparable tenure to the position previously held by that pensioner and suited to the pensioner in terms of education, training or experience, or could be suited to the pensioner if the person was retrained.
Where ESSS have medically assessed a person (either a pensioner or an employee receiving a temporary benefit) as fit to return to work, the Department will manage its statutory obligations as set out below.
Temporary benefits pensioners
An employee in receipt of a temporary benefit is effectively on leave without pay from the Department for the maximum 2 year period during which they can receive the benefit.
Under existing workforce planning policy, the principal of the school where the person was employed when their pension commenced must ensure the temporary benefits pensioner remains in the school’s workforce plan and must accommodate the potential return of such an employee.
A teacher receiving a temporary benefit who is deemed fit to resume their previous duties must be offered a teaching position on the same basis as any other teacher returning from a period of long term leave. Where ESSS recommends non-teaching duties, the principal can identify an education support class position (if available) appropriate to the person’s level of experience, education or training, or that could be appropriate after a period of retraining.
Any complying offer made to an employee receiving a temporary benefit should be made as soon as practicable (but no later than 3 months) after receipt of the ESSS written advice concerning the employee’s fitness for duty.
An employee receiving a temporary benefit who accepts the salary and other conditions of the offer will resume duty on a designated date and will be subject to the normal workforce planning process and performance and development arrangements applicable to employees at the school.
The Department will refer any employee receiving a temporary benefit who rejects a complying offer to ESSS for consideration of their continued eligibility for a pension.
Disability retirement benefits pensioners
Where ESSS provides the Department with written advice that a disability retirement benefits pensioner is fit to return to work, that person will be given employment priority status. This will guarantee the pensioner an interview for any position for which they are an applicant.
The Schools Recruitment Unit will manage the re-employment processes for the pensioner.
For a 3 month period following the receipt of advice from ESSS that a pensioner is fit to return to work, the Schools Recruitment Unit will assist in the referral of the pensioner to advertised vacancies at or below the pensioner’s pre-retirement salary range and, or classification level.
Where a pensioner who was a teacher is deemed fit to resume their previous duties, the pensioner will be referred to suitable teaching vacancies. Where ESSS recommends non-teaching duties, the pensioner will be referred to suitable Education Support Class vacancies where they are appropriate to the person’s level of experience, education or training, or that could be appropriate after a period of retraining.
Where a pensioner is found suitable for the vacancy, the person will be offered employment in accordance with normal practice. A pensioner who accepts the salary and other conditions of the offer will resume duty on a designated date and will be subject to the normal workforce planning process and performance and development arrangements applicable to staff at the school.
The Department will refer any pensioner who rejects an offer of employment to ESSS for consideration of their continued eligibility for a pension.
Other support strategies
Medical assessments of fitness to return to work
The Department will provide ESSS and its medical practitioners with a briefing and documentation on the roles and responsibilities, as well as dimensions of work and, or professional standards, for staff employed in Victorian government schools.
It is intended that this will provide ESSS medical practitioners with an appreciation of the career structures, expectations of work and knowledge and skill requirements for employees in schools. It will also enhance the quality of advice available to ESSS when pensioners’ fitness to return to work is reviewed, and enable the medical practitioners to be more specific in their recommendations of the types of duties that potential returnees are able to perform.
In order to assist temporary or disability retirement benefits pensioners in their consideration of an offer of employment, the Department will provide each person deemed fit to resume duty with information about career structures and employment opportunities in schools.
In terms of providing support to access appropriate retraining, a pensioner who is deemed fit to resume as a teacher will be offered the opportunity to participate in refresher courses which are designed to support the re-entry of returning teachers into government schools, to ensure their smooth transition to effective teaching and to enable the highest possible level of student learning.
Reviewed 09 June 2020