Workers Compensation Legislative Amendments
On 22nd October 2019, the government of Queensland passed the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 to improve the compensation claims experience for injured workers and to ensure better recovery of vulnerable workers with psychological and physical injuries, by providing adequate rehabilitation and return to work services. This articles aim is to outline the amendments made, and help people better understand them. The following amendments to the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 have come into affect from 30th October 2019:
Improved psychological support
The definition of psychological or psychiatric injuries has been changed, now requiring workers psychological or psychiatric injuries sustained in a workplace to be a ‘significant contributing factor’, rather than a ‘major contributing factor’ for an injury claim. Further, the insurers are required to provide adequate services to the worker with such injuries before their claims are finalised. This amendment is aimed to hopefully reduce the severity, duration and recurrence of mental injury or illness.
Discretion of insurers to waive the time limit for workers certified with incapacity
From 30th October 2019, insurers now have the discretion to accept claims outside the six-month legislation period by workers who attempt to manage their workplace injury.
Extended access to rehabilitation programs
If a worker is not able to return to work due to psychological illness or injury after the end of claim period, the insurers are now required to extend their access to the accredited rehabilitation and return to work programs. This applies to workers who have stopped receiving compensation for an injury under section 144A, 168 or 190(2), from 30 October 2019 onward.
Exemption of apologies and expression of regrets from consideration in common law claims
This has been done with a purpose of motivating the employers to issue apologies or expression of regret to workers with mental injuries. It is applicable from 30th October 2019. Apologies issued before 30th October 2019 are inadmissible to the current amendment.
Work-cover to undertake health and safety initiatives
The employers are now required to ensure that they are capable of funding and providing work-cover programs aimed to ensure good mental health and safety of their workers.
What’s next for workers seeking compensation?
Additionally, there are certain amendments that are going to come into effect from 1st July 2020. They key aspects of these amendments will be:
- To ensure that workers’ compensation coverage is extended to unpaid interns so that are capable of accessing the workplace safety benefits in case of injuries.
- Self-insured employers will be required to report workers’ injuries and payments made in this regard to their insurers.
- The employers will be required to provide the details of their Rehabilitation and Return to Work Coordinators (RRTWCs) to their insurers and to prove that their qualifications are suitable for rehabilitations and return to work services. Office of the Industrial relations (OIR) will ensure approval and the provision of training courses for RRTWCs. Employers can use these courses to prove the competency of their RRTWCs. However, existing RRTWCs are not required to undertake these courses.