What is workers compensation?
Most people have heard of workers compensation in one context or another – but what exactly is it?
Essentially, workers compensation schemes typically cover all employees, plus a further list of persons who are deemed to be ‘workers’ whether they are engaged under an employment contract or not. For example, the term ‘worker’ extends to volunteers and contractors.
Workers compensation is an insurance payment provided to employees if they are injured at work or become ill as a result of conducting work-related activities. For an illness or injury to be compensable, it must generally be shown to have arisen ‘out of or in the course of employment’. In most cases, a workers compensation payment is made directly to the employee by their employer’s insurer.
In Australia, all employers are required to take out workers compensation insurance that covers their employees and themselves. This means that if you injure yourself, or become ill while ‘on the job’ – your employer can pay you during your recovery
What does it mean to be injured or sick?
But what does it mean to be injured, or made ill, at work?
The most common kinds of workplace injury are physical ones – usually to the hands, arms, and back. Psychological injury is also common and can be dealt with in the same way under workers compensation rules.
Injuries can occur immediately or over a long period, such as in the case of exposure to toxic fumes or poor workstation designs.
Why should I make a claim?
If you were injured at work, and need to take time off to recover, making a workers compensation claim can be the easiest way to preserve your income whilst recovering.
If you suffer a compensable injury or illness you would generally be entitled to reimbursement of your medical expenses plus some level of income replacement while you remain unfit for work.
In cases where you sustain a permanent disability, you will generally be entitled to a ‘lump-sum’ compensation. The lump sum figure would depend on the extent of your disability.
How does a claimant receive workers compensation?
If you are injured or fallen ill, the first step is to notify your employer of your injury. This will require you to produce evidence of your injury so that they can communicate this to their insurer. Your employer has 48 hours to inform their insurer of your injury at which time the insurer will contact you.
In most cases, the insurer will accept provisional payment and will commence making provisional payment within seven calendar days. This is a ‘provisional’ payment, meaning that the insurer will undergo a claim evaluation process to determine if you are eligible for future weekly payments. The provisional payments usually last up to 13 weeks. During the provisional period the insurer must decide as to whether your claim has been accepted or not.
If your claim is accepted, then you are entitled to receive weekly payments for a period of 14 – 130 weeks. The period will depend on your capacity to return to work.
If your claim is rejected, you have the right to appeal the decision.
If you are injured at work and your employer has threatened, you with termination we recommend that you get in contact with JFM Law in order to have a confidential discussion with one of our solicitors regarding your rights.
JFMLAW can assist you with understanding your rights under the workers compensation legislation and the Fair Work Act. Call us on (02) 9199 8597