Workcover QLD changes – increased threshold for suing employers & bosses allowed to access workcover history


Good Grief! According to Workcover QLD,  were all rorting the system. So whoopie all injured workers are going to be red flagged. We all know what happens when your file is red flagged. You have either stood up for your rights and been labelled a troublemaker OR you’ve had your Workcover claim accepted!

Workcover QLD changes – increased threshold for suing employers & bosses allowed to access workcover history

Workcover QLD changes were rushed through last Thursday (17 Oct 2013)

Some Queenslanders injured at work will no longer be able to sue their employers under reforms rushed through state parliament.
Bosses will also be able to access job applicants’ workers compensation history.

Unions, the opposition and lawyers say parts of the shake-up are unjustified and unfair, especially when the state’s workers compensation scheme, WorkCover, made half a billion dollars profit last financial year.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie unveiled the changes on Tuesday and declared the legislation “urgent” so it bypassed scrutiny by a parliamentary committee and was passed last week.

The most controversial changes will give employers access to the claims history of job applicants.

Critics say the move could lead to discrimination, but the government says it will red flag those who’ve rorted the system.

Penalties for those who make fraudulent compensation claims will increase.

And a worker would no longer be able to sue their employer if their injury causes just five per cent or less impairment.

A bipartisan parliamentary committee recommended against a threshold, but the former WorkCover chairman wanted a 10-15 per cent cap.

In defending the changes, Mr Bleijie said Queensland would have the lowest threshold to access common law damages in Australia, with the exception of the ACT.

“The changes aim to strike a better balance between providing appropriate benefits for injured workers and ensuring the costs incurred by employers are reasonable,” he said.

“Having a competitive premium will encourage more investment into our great state.”

Lower-end common law claims accounted for around half the payouts in the scheme.

Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams says half of all injured workers will now be denied the right to sue an negligent employer.

“Even a small degree of permanent impairment can have a devastating effect on a worker’s future employment prospects,” he said.

“Without an appropriate, independently adjudicated payout many of these workers and their families face a life of poverty.”

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said WorkCover’s annual report, released late on Monday (last week), proved the changes were unjustified.

“WorkCover profits are up, common law claims are down and Queensland has the second lowest premiums in Australia,” the ALA’s Queensland president Michelle James said in a statement.

“The total cost of common law claims was also down more than $50 million compared with the previous year.

“That’s not a scheme rife with unworthy claims.”

Shadow treasurer Curtis Pitt said the changes were yet another rush job by a government intent on avoiding the usual scrutiny.

“No wonder they are getting to be known as the know-it-all Newman government,” Mr Pitt said.


Bosses will also be able to access job applicants’ workers compensation history

We all known how damn hard it is to obtain new employment once we have had a workcover claim – most (seriously) injured workers are sacked by their own employers the minute the law allows it (i.e. 12 months in Vic, 6 months in NSW) and find it extremely difficult to gain new employment, as inevitably there is or may be an issue of further “liability” should the applicant (injured worker) re-injure him/herself.

Obviously, and disgustingly, under the new Qld workcover reforms, injured workers will now face job interview booby traps, does that mean that employer discrimination is OK?

Routine job interviews have already been lined with booby traps to kill off the chances of (injured) workers desperate to re-gain a job.

It has been suggested many applicants should now – more than ever- arrange their own medical clearance prior to even applying for a new job.
That is now the effect of new Queensland workcover laws which target non-disclosure of prior workcover claims and medical conditions and give employers the opportunity to consider the workplace suitability of applicants for the duties they will be required to perform.

Job applicants must now disclose all pre-existing injuries and medical conditions if the employer makes a written request and if the application form states a written statement about the duties the worker will need to perform as well as a warning of the legal consequences of non-disclosure.

Under the new QLD workcover laws, any injured worker who gives misleading information about their work injury history as it is relevant to the particular job from October 15, may be denied injury compensation or damages for an aggravation of the non-disclosed prior injury.

We have no doubt that these new laws will make it much more difficult for people/injured workers with existing medical conditions to re-enter the workforce or return to work.

What can you do? What rights do you have?

To persuade the interviewer/boss that you, the injured/ill worker, have sufficiently recovered from any prior injury, it may be beneficial for injured/ill job seekers to come to job interviews armed with their own prearranged medical report, clearing them for the job applied for.

Although this may come at the cost of the injured worker, it may prove to be money well spent.

It is also worth remembering that you can refuse to disclose your pre-existing medical etc condition if you are put on the job before the boss/employer  presented you with the paperwork that contains the questions, or if they failed to ask you anything during the interview.

The same law grants employers the right to access a job applicant’s WorkCover (QLD) claims history upon payment of an application fee provided the job applicant has signed his or her consent: s 571D.

The new employer must keep the information confidential and use it only in connection with deciding the job application.
Under another Queensland law – the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 – an employer may only, under s 36, discriminate against an “impaired” person in the job application process if the person’s “impairment… would impose unjustifiable hardship” on the employer given “the nature of the work”.

“Impairment” means the total or partial loss of the person’s bodily functions; bodily disfigurement; or a condition that impairs a person’s thought processes, or emotions.

That Act also contains a provision making it unlawful to request information from a person “on which unlawful discrimination might be based”.

So although s 571D claims history requests are permitted, the circumstances in which the information is used might be indicative of a discriminatory purpose.

Injured workers denied a position because of their medical history, may well have a claim for compensation under the Anti-Discrimination Act.

The success of such a claim will depend on the nature of the job being applied for and the nature of the worker’s “impairment”.

Needless to say employers should carefully examine their job application forms to ensure that the questions are formulated in a way so as to comply with both Acts!


[Post by Trinny & Workcovervictim]


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9 Responses to “Workcover QLD changes – increased threshold for suing employers & bosses allowed to access workcover history”

  1. Mmmmm looks like a watered down version of the UK WC laws is a coming. This is laying the ideological framework for demonised injured workers being denied compensation, sounds very familiar, wonder if Derryn Hinch will do a story on it (or has he gone bankrupt?). And accessing worker’s medical history for WC???? Now that sounds like a test case for the anti discrimination laws, after all it is discrimination to deny someone employment based upon their disability. I have said it many times on this forum, we MUST use the laws to fight these changes, because if we don’t it will only get much much worse.

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  2. Unfortunately if an employer is going to discriminate against an injured worker by not hiring them they will come up with an alternative reason to justify not hiring them, hence rendering the anti-discrimination laws useless.

    Thanks for the idea of coming to a job interview with a medical clearance. At least someone is trying to think of some ways to try minimise the level of distruction these laws will most likely silently bring. Can definitely see the legal goldmine that is going to arise out of the new reason for denying claims (pre-existing workplace injury).

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  3. What I just don’t get is that WorkCover QLD’s annual report has been tabled in Queensland Parliament, revealing a $518 million profit last financial year, up from $199 million in 2010-11. DUH?

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    • the politicians love profits bugger leaving it and putting to good use strip it bare to pay for the politicians stuff ups or a pay rise more benifets for them fuck the injured

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    • Yup bye bye to my employability . This decision will only prevent more legitimately injured people from not making claims , so as not to affect their future employability too 🙁 . Fuck this system !

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  5. Some more information:

    October 24, 2013

    -QUEENSLAND unions will today launch a High Court challenge against the state government’s industrial relation laws.

    -Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has introduced a range of workplace reforms that will dramatically cut redundancy entitlements for public servants.

    -Redundancy payouts will be capped at 16 weeks under changes the Government says will simplify the awards structure for government employees.

    -QCU general secretary Ron Monaghan says the laws removed workers’ rights to speak out against unpopular government decisions.

    -He says unions want the High Court to overturn the laws on the grounds they are unconstitutional.

    Here is a link to the whole article which includes a video:

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    HuntingWorkcover October 30, 2013 at 12:41 pm
    • Thanks HuntingWorkcover,

      How very interesting how the union will fight the changes constitutionally, yet especially anything surrounding workers compensation not a single challenge constitutionally.

      Section 109 of the constitution

      “When a law of a State is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth, the latter shall prevail, and the former shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be invalid.”

      Section 117 of the constitution

      A subject of the Queen, resident in any State, shall not be subject in any other State to any disability or discrimination which would not be equally applicable to him if he were a subject of the Queen resident in such other State.

      There needs to be an argument based on section 109 that the state laws offer less protection compared to the commonwealth and would seek the high court to render them invalid.

      It also needs to be argued based on section 117 that we as injured are being disabled and discriminated against compared to other state workers comp systems.

      I have said this before and will continue to argue this, it is also one way of getting rid of the retrospective and work capacity legislation in NSW, it could also be used to abolish the 30% target that the government has put on victims before they could seek common law damages

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  6. the people and workers of australia need to stop work and protest even if for only a day.workcover is a law upon themselves and a mob of injury review officer 16 months before my case worked as a sales consultant in hardware….bloody useless and he is toil with people livesthis fraudulent company bullies and fraudulently lies to suit themselves.t and there is no arbatrition against workcovet….there is no company who investigates workcover and qcomp investigation….

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