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)
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.
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.
Routine job interviews have already been lined with booby traps to kill off the chances of (injured) workers desperate to re-gain a job.
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.
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.
“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.
So although s 571D claims history requests are permitted, the circumstances in which the information is used might be indicative of a discriminatory purpose.
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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