Anybody injured at work has a right to worker’s compensation, including paid leave and compensation for medical costs. This applies to both physical and mental injuries and can occur at the workplace or offsite. Each state and territory has its own worker’s compensation scheme (WorkCover), although if you work for a large national employer, you may be covered by Comcare.
If you are injured at work, you need to:
- see a doctor
- report the injury to the employer
- submit a worker’s injury claim form
You can get a worker's injury claim form your employer or download it from WorkCover. Your employer must send the claim form to their insurance company, which will investigate the claim and decide if compensation is payable or not.
As well as the right worker’s compensation, you also have the right to:
- see your choice of doctor/ medical provider(s) (NOT the employer’s choice).
- have a Health and Safety rep and/ or union rep present when talking with the employer about your injury or return to work.
- safe and meaningful work while injured, if you are able to work. This might mean alternative tasks to your usual ones.
- return to the same work you had before you were injured when you can.
In serious cases, you can also sue your employer for damages in court. Speak to your union if considering this.
You should never be discriminated against for having been injured at work. Under Equal Opportunity Legislation, it is illegal to discriminate against a person on grounds of injury or health, or for having made a work-related complaint. Protections against discrimination are also provided by the Fair Work Act 2009. To fire a worker in discriminatory circumstances in unlawful termination and can result in prosecution.
How to make a claim for worker’s compensation
To make a claim for workers compensation follow these basic steps:
- Notify your employer in writing via accident book or email or other means as soon as you become ill or have been diagnosed.
- Visit your doctor, not the company doctor. You have a right to visit the doctor of your choice. Your employer is not entitled to come to this appointment, and it is advised that if you would like a support person with you that you should bring a friend or family member.
At your appointment, be sure to:
- Tell your work history to the doctor.
- Obtain a medical certificate.
- If your employer or their representatives insist that you must attend their doctor, it is essential you get that request in writing. Inform your employer that you are getting advice. Contact your union.Do not let an employer representative attend your medical appointment. Medical appointments are private. If a case conference is organised, then speak to your union and make sure you have a support person or representative with you, always.
- Get your doctor to fill out the workers compensation forms if applicable in your state or territory
- Fill out your section and provide the completed claim form to your employer along with any medical certificate. This can be provided by email.
- If your employer refuses or delays in notifying the insurer, then do it yourself. Your union may assist in this. Some states and territories have online notification/reporting systems.
Keep copies of everything, including details of:
- when and how you believe you were exposed
- your symptoms and when you started experiencing them
- when you told your employer
- when you visited the doctor
- when your employer or their insurer spoke with you – either in person or over the phone
- Speak to your union delegate. Never meet with anybody without your delegate and request all questions be in writing.