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Important changes to Queensland workers’ compensation legislation

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

The legislation amends existing workers’ compensation legislation in Queensland to incorporate key recommendations from the “Five-Year Review of Queensland’s Workers’ Compensation Scheme” published in 2018.

The first phase of amendments was implemented on 30 October 2019. The second phase of amendments commenced more recently on 1 July 2020.

Some of the important changes include:

Amendments that commenced on 30 October 2019

  1. Enhanced psychological support

Workers’ compensation insurers are now required to take all reasonable steps to provide support services to workers suffering from a psychological injury while the claim is being determined. Previously, an insurer was not under any obligation to provide any assistance until the claim had been accepted.

Support services that are available while the claim is being determined include:-

•  general practitioner appointments •  counselling or psychology sessions •  psychiatry appointments •  medication

This will ensure injured workers suffering from a psychological injury will not need to wait for acceptance of the claim to receive these important services which will assist in maximising their prospects of recovery.

  1. Definition of psychological injury

The definition or threshold of what constitutes a work related psychological injury has been relaxed.

Previously an injured worker was required to show their employment was “the major significant contributing factor” to the development of the psychological injury. Under the new definition an injured worker must show their employment was “a significant contributing factor”.

The removal of “the major” may seem like a slight change in wording. However, this amendment will make it vastly easier for injured workers to successfully lodge a claim.

  1. Insurer discretion to waive time limit

Insurer’s now have the discretion to accept claims lodged outside the required six-month time limit to ensure workers who have attempted to manage their injury at work are not disadvantaged.

It remains to be seen how the workers’ compensation insurers will use this discretion given they have historically, in our experience, strictly enforced the six-month time limit to lodge a claim.

  1. Ongoing return to work assistance

Insurers are required to continue providing return to work assistance to injured workers after the statutory claim has ended in the event an injured worker has not returned to work because of their injury.

Amendments that commenced on 1 July 2020

  1. Self-insured employers to report injuries and payments to their insurer

Self-insured employers are now required to report injuries and any payments made to injured workers to their insurer. This is an obligation already imposed on all other employers.

  1. Return to work co-ordinator details

Employers are now required to provide details of their rehabilitation and return to work co-ordinators to their insurer, including details of the co-ordinators qualifications to perform the role.

  1. Workers’ compensation coverage for unpaid interns

Workers’ compensation benefits are now extended to cover unpaid interns.

Unpaid interns perform work without payment of wages to gain practical experience.

Historically, interns perform work for the benefit of an employer but do not have the same protections (including workers’ compensation coverage). These amendments ensure these vulnerable individuals have access to workers’ compensation entitlements in the event of an injury while undertaking unpaid work.

It is pleasing to see the workers’ compensation legislation amended in some key areas to reflect the recommendations identified in the recent five year review of the scheme. These amendments provide further protections to some of Queensland’s most vulnerable workers including unpaid interns and those suffering from work related psychological injuries.

If you are injured in a work related incident in Queensland, it is important you seek legal advice from an experienced and reputable practitioner. vbr WorkCover Lawyers Gold Coast are highly specialised in work accident claims and can assist with ensuring your rights are protected.

Senior Associate
Zach has represented many clients throughout Queensland, interstate and overseas and has successfully negotiated many significant and complex cases and has extensive experience in various types of compensation claims.
Sean is proud to be a lawyer for everyday people no matter what their issue. He has practised in compensation law for all his legal career and he has a superb track record of achieving outstanding results for his clients.

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