Whether or not you have to disclose a previous workcover claim to a new employer is yet another question we often receive. In essence, if a potential new employer does not ask you specifically if you have previously had any workcover claims or have previously suffered any injuries, you are not strictly obliged to disclose this to them.
Do I have to disclose my previous workcover claim when applying for a job?
Saying that, if the potential new employer refers you for a pre-employment medical examination, the doctor will most likely ask you about any previous or existing injuries and you should disclose those injuries, however you do not necessarily need to disclose whether you had a workcover claim for those injuries.
The most important thing is to remember that if you have an injury or condition which may affect your ability to do the job safely (whether or not you lodged a workcover claim for this injury/condition), most agree that you should disclose that injury or condition even if the new employer does not specifically ask you about it. This is because both employers (companies) and employees (workers) have an obligation to ensure the health and safety of all their workers while at work.
For example, if you have previously had a back injury and your doctor has told you that you should not lift heavy items, you should disclose this if you are applying for a job which will involve heavy lifting. The main issue revolves around your safety and the safety of your co-workers. In addition if you do not disclose such an injury/restrictions and you were to aggravate your injury, you would not be entitled to claim workcover.
A new employer should not ask you if you have had a previous workcover claim, but they are legally allowed to know and ask whether you have an injury/condition which may affect your ability to do the job safely.
Unfortunately the truth is that many employers will ask applicants about previous workcover claims. Although most agree that they have no legal right to ask this, you should be honest in a job application. If you lie on a job application and you are offered the job and later your employer discovers that you have not been honest, you may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
If you are asked about previous workcover claims and you previously had claims for minor injuries which do not affect your ability to do the job you are applying for (for example, a cut toe, a minor muscular strain, a simple fracture), you should provide that information but highlight that the injury in question has (long) resolved and will not affect your new job duties.
Also it is actually unlawful for a potential new employer to refuse to offer a job to a worker because that worker has exercised the “workplace right” of making a (past) workcover claim. It is also unlawful for an employer to discriminate against workers or prospective workers because of a disability, unless that disability makes the worker or prospective worker unable to undertake the inherent requirements of the job and in a safe manner.
Whilst the above looks nice in theory, it is not uncommon for prospective employers to specifically ask whether or not you have had a previous workcover claim, and to -yes-discriminate on that basis, making it very difficult for many disabled and past injured workers to successfully obtain new employment. This is also one of the reasons as why some workcover authorities offer monetary incentives to hire past injured workers, or workers with some medical restrictions.
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