On 29 October 2013 the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2003 (Qld) was passed.
The Act makes a number of changes to the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) that will benefit employers, including:
An employer is entitled to ask a prospective worker to disclose injuries or medical conditions which a person knows or reasonably suspects would be aggravated by the duties of the prospective employment.
The request must be in writing:
The prospective worker is not required to comply if he or she is engaged by the employer before having a reasonable opportunity to comply.
A prospective worker who makes false or misleading disclosure in relation to their relevant pre-existing injuries or medical conditions will not be entitled to compensation or to seek damages for any event that aggravates the injury or condition.
The Act also enables a prospective employer to apply to the Workers’ Compensation Regulator for a copy of a prospective worker’s claims history summary. The application must be in the prescribed form and requires the prospective worker’s consent. The summary can only be used by the employer for the purposes of considering and selecting a person for employment; the existing prohibition concerning using or accessing workers’ compensation documents for general employment purposes remains in effect.
These changes will enable prospective employers to obtain more information about a prospective worker, however it is important that employers:
To be eligible for workers’ compensation for a psychiatric or psychological injury, a worker must now demonstrate that the psychiatric or psychological disorder (or an aggravation of an existing disorder) arose out of or in the course of employment, and that the employment is the major significant contributing factor to the injury or aggravation.
The intention is to exclude situations where a pre-existing condition is the major issue, or where there are multiple factors and employment is not the major one.
The Act maintains the current exclusions for reasonable management action.
The Act changes the method of assessing permanent impairment from ‘work related impairment’ to a ‘degree of permanent impairment’ (DPI), and directs the Authority to make guidelines for assessing a worker’s degree of permanent impairment.
Multiple physical injuries resulting from a single incident will be assessed together to make a combined DPI. However, psychological injuries cannot be combined with a DPI for a physical injury.
Only workers assessed as having a DPI greater than 5% (or a terminal condition) are entitled to bring claims for common law damages.
Workers who do not meet the DPI threshold are still be entitled to seek damages from any other non-employer entity responsible for the injury. Therefore claims against host employers and principal contractors on mining and construction projects may increase in number or scope, and those entities will no longer be able to claim contribution against the employer or WorkCover.
WorkCover and self-insurers are now required to refer a worker who has lodged a Notice of Claim, to an accredited return to work program of the insurer unless the insurer is satisfied that the worker will not be able to participate because of the injury. Return to work programs may include vocational assessments, re-skilling, retraining, job placement and host employment.
WorkCover and self-insurers must also take steps they consider practicable to coordinate the development and maintenance of a rehabilitation and return to work plan in consultation with the injured worker, the worker’s employer and treating healthcare providers.
There are increased obligations on employers to assist WorkCover and self insurers to get injured workers back to work and to keep records and documents about workers and contracts for the performance of work for at least three financial years.
For further information on any of these issues please refer to the contacts on the right.
The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication.