For a variety of different reasons, injured workers on the WorkCover system want or need to move interstate. Quite often, understandably, injured workers lack the ability, resources or support to properly look after themselves whilst injured, and feel that they need to reside interstate with family, partner or friends, at least until they recover. The question asked is what happens to an injured worker’s claim and weekly pay when they move interstate?
Going interstate whilst on workcover
We recently received the following query from an injured worker in Victoria:
Hi, I am on a [workcover] claim in Victoria. Receiving payments beyond 130 weeks. Want to move (to X) interstate. Will that mean my payments will stop. I have been looking through legislation to see if I have to reside in Victoria, but it is doing my head in.
What happens to an injured worker’s claim and weekly pay when they move interstate?
The need for an injured worker to move interstate can happen both when an injured worker suffer from physical injuries and/or from psychological injuries.
For example, an injured worker who has injured his/her back may need to move interstate to live with their parents as they are unable to perform daily tasks themselves due to their restrictions, pain and suffering. Likewise, an injured worker who is suffering major depression may feel that they need the support of family and friends interstate fearing their psychological condition might deteriorate without this support.
As far as we have been able to make out, the general rule regarding workcover is that if you are injured at work in a particular state then the workers compensation law requires that you reside in that State in order to receive WorkCover weekly payments.
However, the law does allow weekly payments to continue if an injured worker moves interstate (or even overseas) in some circumstances.
If you are receiving weekly payments and you wish to travel interstate (for example, to visit family or friends, or take a holiday) then the law does not forbid you from doing so, as long as it does not conflict or interfere with any rehabilitation or scheduled medical appointments.
However, it is our understanding that if an injured worker wishes to reside interstate (more than 2 months) and continue to receive weekly payments then the injured worker must get the consent (permission) from WorkCover (or the self-insured employer) to reside outside of the state. If you don’t have consent/permission from WorkCover, then they may cease your weekly payments.A decision to cease your weekly payments can be disputed and you should seek legal advice as soon as you receive any correspondence indicating that your weekly payments may cease.
WorkCover is not allowed to simply deny your request to move interstate – they have to make a ‘reasonable’ decision in the circumstances, and this is determined on a case by case basis. If, for example, an injured worker suffering from major depression was not given consent to move to Queensland to live with his mother, this would most likely be an unreasonable decision, and should be disputed (i.e. Conciliation in Vic, Workers compensation Tribunal in SA).
When an injured worker simply wants to travel interstate for a short period (that is, you continue to formally reside in the State, but leave the State for a period of time), as a general rule, you should advise both your lawyer and your workcover Case Manager of your intention to travel interstate. You should also ask the Case Manager to avoid making any appointments for the period that you will be outside the State. In most circumstances, a case manager does not have a problem with a worker travelling interstate, or even overseas, to visit loved ones or for a holiday.
If you request consent/permission to either travel or reside interstate while on WorkCover and the consent/permission is not given, you should seek legal advice.
All we could find (so far) re Victorian injured workers is:
- If a Victorian injured worker moves interstate after putting in a claim, does the employer still have to meet their return to work obligations?
A worker moving interstate does not remove employer’s return to work obligations. However, this may be relevant factor in determining what is reasonable for an employer to do.
- The workcover Vic online Claims Manual does not appear to have any information re an injured worker moving interstate. There appears to be only information re injured workers moving overseas.
- However, according to the Victorian workcover legislation:AC Act: S114(2D) Termination or alteration of weekly paymentsThe new WIRC Act: S185 Where worker’s weekly payments are reducedS. 114(2A) inserted by No. 9/2010 s. 45(2).(2A) If the current weekly earnings of a worker who—(a) has an incapacity for work resulting from, or materially contributed to by, an injury; and(b) is receiving, or but for the worker’s current weekly earnings, would have been entitled to receive, compensation in the form of weekly payments—
are reduced because—
(c) the worker no longer resides in Victoria; or
(d) the worker’s employment was terminated because of the worker’s misconduct; or
(e) the worker—
(i) has resigned; or
(ii) reduced the hours worked otherwise than in the circumstances referred in section 93CDA—
for reasons unrelated to the worker’s incapacity—
the Authority or a self-insurer may determine—
(f) not to alter the amount of compensation in the form of weekly payments paid to the worker; or
(g) not to pay compensation in the form of weekly payments.
We would be grateful if anyone has more information about Victorian injured workers moving interstate.