By Samantha Cathcart

The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 22 October 2019.

Queensland’s workers’ compensation scheme is one of the best in Australia, with the lowest average premium rate of any state or territory. The scheme’s philosophy is to provide fair treatment for both employers and injured workers.

The amendments include several important changes to the scheme that assist injured workers and increase the claims management process.

The amendments are in line with recommendations made by Professor David Peetz, independent reviewer, after an extensive review and consultation with stakeholders.

What Changes have been made to the Act?

The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act amendment includes:

  1. Ensuring support and assistance is available to an injured worker suffering from psychological injury before their claim is determined by the workers’ compensation insurer;
  2. A change to the definition of psychological injury, so that a worker’s employment needs only to be ‘a’ significant contributing factor to the injury, rather than ‘the major’ significant factor;
  3. Providing an injured worker access to the workers’ compensation insurer’s rehabilitation and return to work at the end of their claim, if they have not returned to work because of their injury;
  4. Improving the capability of employers to assist an injured worker’s rehabilitation. The change is to ensure an employer’s rehabilitation and return to work coordinator is appropriately qualified to undertake their role and has completed a training course or qualification approved by the Workers’ Compensation Regulator.
  5. Exempting employers’ expressions of regret and/or apologies from being considered in an assessment of liability for damages in a common law claim under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act.
  6. Clarifying that a workers’ compensation insurer can fund programs and provide incentives encouraging employers to improve health and safety performance after consulting with the relevant health and safety regulator.
  7. Requiring self-insured employers to report injuries and any payments to their insurer, to align with the current requirements imposed on all other employers;
  8. Allowing a workers’ compensation insurer’s further discretion to accept claims lodged outside the legislated timeframe. This allows a waiver of the six-month time limit on lodging a claim, if an injured worker lodges a claim within 20 business days of developing an incapacity for work from their injury. This is to ensure an injured worker who attempted to manage their injury is not disadvantaged in the process;
  9. Extending workers’ compensation coverage to unpaid interns to ensure those individuals have access to benefits in the event of a workplace injury.

BTLawyers has partnered with WorkCover Queensland and many self-insurers for over 16 years.. If you would like to know more about how the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act amendment impacts your business, our Workplace Law team can assist you.

You can our office on (07) 3211 2233 or enquire using the form below.