14 January 2021 posted by Recovery Partners

Strike while the iron’s hot: How Josh helped this injured chef get a new job at the very cafe they were meeting at


Natalie had injured her back working as a chef

*Natalie was bending down to the ovens in the kitchen of the high-end Sydney restaurant where she worked as a pastry chef when she felt a sharp pain in her back. ‘Natalie had some disc bulges in her back and was taken to hospital, where she eventually underwent a discectomy,’ explains Joshua Knopf, Recovery Partners Rehabilitation Consultant. ‘After the surgery, we attempted to help Natalie return to work at the restaurant, but they were unable to find suitable duties for her to do while she recovered.’ So, Josh was then tasked with helping Natalie find work with a new employer.

Josh helped Natalie with job seeking

‘Natalie had a great reputation and good references,’ says Josh, ‘but she hadn’t had much job seeking experience, as her industry is quite niche, and most people get jobs through word of mouth or referrals.’ So, Josh began by helping Natalie update her resume and cover letter, create a profile on the Seek jobs site, and mentally prepare to re-enter the workforce. ‘Natalie hadn’t been working for six or seven months, then COVID-19 happened, and the job market was slow,’ Josh says. ‘Natalie was undergoing physiotherapy, but she still had pain in her legs and glutes from the back injury. She was nervous about her ability to cope with pain when she returned to work. We decided to transition from physiotherapy to treatment sessions with an exercise physiologist who could help with strengthening her back and building her capacity for work again.’

A serendipitous meeting

‘Natalie was quite an anxious person, but I was really consistent with communication and I think that helped,’ says Josh. ‘I made sure I stayed in touch regularly, over phone, email and in-person so she felt supported, like I was in her corner.’ It was at one of these in-person meetings that Natalie and Josh secured her next opportunity, at the very cafe they were meeting at. ‘Natalie had mentioned that this particular cafe in Caringbah would be good to work at, as it was her local and close to where she lived. We met there and discussed the JobCover placement program, where employers receive a financial incentive to hire workers who are recovering from injury. We decided to strike while the iron was hot and approach the cafe owner to see if we could have a chat with them about it.’

JobCover seals the deal

Just by chance, the head chef at that cafe was due to leave in a weeks’ time, so the owner was very interested in what Josh and Natalie were proposing. ‘Natalie is very skilled so she would have been a good hire choice, anyway,’ Josh explains. ‘When we explained to them about the JobCover program, that just sealed the deal.’ In the JobCover placement program, employers are guaranteed that costs will be covered for a period of two years, so they don’t have to be concerned about the impact on their insurance if the workers’ injury is exacerbated again. ‘It gives employers peace of mind about the chance they’re taking,’ Josh says, ‘but they’re not always open to it. I was really pleased that this cafe owner was so receptive to the idea. Natalie was pleased, too.’ The cafe owner offered Natalie a position for twenty hours a week, which was her maximum capacity at that time. ‘They even adjusted the role so that Natalie could concentrate more on baking, as that was her career path. They were really accommodating about her physical limits and made plans so she wouldn’t have to do any heavy lifting,’ Josh says.

Wins all around!

Natalie has now been working in the role for a few weeks and has reported that she’s really enjoying it, Josh says. ‘She did have a minor pain flare-up, but apart from that, her back has been fine and she’s really liking the work. The employers are pleased, too. They’ve even offered to chat about other workers who might want to do the JobCover placement program at the cafe, too, like waitstaff.’ For her part, Natalie is happy to be back on the tools and is genuinely excited about increasing her capacity and working more hours, Josh says. ‘It’s been a great outcome. The cafe owners are happy, Natalie is happy, and I’m pretty happy about how it’s all worked out, too!’ As he should be!


If you’re an employer and you’re interested in the JobCover placement program or you have a client in NSW that you would like to see placed in a new opportunity, get in touch.

Our services are available nationwide. For more information about our services contact us.

Our consultants love to have a chat, so go ahead and give us a call on 1300 OHS RTW (647 789) or email enquiries@rrp.com.au *Names have been changed to protect the identity and privacy of the individuals or organisations involved

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/