In Australia, employers are required to take out workers’ compensation insurance to compensate employees who get injured at work. The laws governing this cover vary by state, but some principles cut across all states. It’s important to get acquainted with them if you’re an employer or an employee planning to work in Australia.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
It’s a compulsory statutory insurance cover that protects workers who get injured or sick at work. Any business that has employed workers on a full-time or part-time basis under a written or oral contract must take out a workers’ compensation cover.
The cover also protects casual and seasonal employees and, in some cases, subcontractors and contractors. As such, if a worker suffers a workplace injury, the cover ensures the worker is compensated for:
- Lost wages if they have missed work
- Hospital stays, medical bills, and costs associated with physical rehabilitation
- A lump sum payment if the worker sustains a permanent injury
- The difference in wages if the worker needs to take a lower-paying job
- Funeral expenses and family support
Note, a workers’ compensation coverage is a no-fault type of compensation. This means an employee is entitled to compensation even if they didn’t act according to the company’s procedures. However, this rule doesn’t apply if an employee engages in serious misconduct.
If you are entitled to Work Injury Compensation, it’s crucial to find suitable lawyers that can best help you with your claim. Work Cover Helpline is a Brisbane based law firm that has a wealth of knowledge and years of industry experience to ensure you get the best outcome. They also have a no win no fee guarantee so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re needing legal advice in the Brisbane area.
Launching a Claim
Once an employee sustains an injury at work, the first step in launching a claim is to inform the employer about the injury. This is because you may lose your right to get compensation if you don’t tell the employer you’ve been hurt.
According to Australian law, an employee must file workers’ compensation within six months of injury. After filing, the employer’s insurance company will work with you to develop an injury management plan.
The insurance company then requires the employee to obtain a First Medical Certificate from the doctor, showing all the injuries sustained. Normally, the insurance cover allows the injured employee to choose the doctor, specialist, or physiotherapist they want. However, the insurer or employer may recommend an independent medical examination, and you’re obliged to attend all of them.
The second document you need when launching the claim is a workers’ compensation claim form. Fill in all the necessary details and submit the form to the employer along with the First Medical Certificate.
Lodging the Claim with the Insurer
The employer then sends the documents to the insurance company to start the compensation process. According to Australian laws, the employer should lodge the forms with the insurer within five days. On the other hand, the insurer must respond to the application within 14 days.
The insurance may accept, decline, or put the claim on hold pending medical reports or further investigation. If the claim is declined, the employee can file an appeal.
The compensation covers loss of wages and expenses associated with treating the injury. Most people receive the usual salary for the first 13 weeks, but it’s reduced to a lower amount after that.
However, if you decide to file a common law claim, you aren’t entitled to any salary. Some employees elect to file common law claims if they sustained severe or multiple injuries in the workplace. Such claims have a high compensation based on the premise that you’re permanently incapacitated and can’t return to meaningful employment.
A workers’ compensation cover also ensures the insurance company pays for medical expenses associated with paying for specialists, general practitioners, and rehabilitation centers.
The cover requires the employee to provide a Progress Medical Certificate showing if they’re fit to resume their pre-injury occupation, unfit, or need modification duties. If you’re partially fit to take on alternative duties, the doctor is legally obliged to state this on the certificate.
If the employee is unfit to resume work but is receiving workers’ compensation, they aren’t entitled to leave. This rule differs by state. For example, in New South Wales, the Workers Compensation program allows workers to take annual leave while receiving compensation.
Also, the employee can accrue annual leave as long as the compensation law permits it. Other states like Western Australia and Queensland follow suit.
The Workers’ Compensation scheme is a broad and complex subject. However, this should help you familiarize yourself with the most important areas. It would also help if you enlisted a workers’ compensation lawyer’s help to assist you in navigating the system, and if you’re local to Work Cover Helpline, it’s worth giving them a call.