Workers Compensation is Your Right

HACSU Members take safety in the workplace seriously. It is every employer’s and every Member’s responsibility to ensure workplaces and work practices are safe (see here).

Unfortunately, from time to time Members do get injured at work or as a result of work activity.

The Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act in Tasmania gives the right to Members who are injured at work to claim compensation for the injury sustained and wages lost as a result of such injuries.

The Act also covers aggravation or re-occurrence of previous injuries if they re-occur or are aggravated as a result of the type of work performed.

This section details important information which Members should be aware of if they are injured at work.

If you are injured at work you should lodge a Workers Compensation Claim with your employer and contact HACSU immediately.

Included in your HACSU Membership is an entitlement to be represented by HACSU’s lawyers, Ogilvie Jennings, up to the dispute hearing stage in the Workers Rehabilitation & Compensation Tribunal (see here).

I was hurt at work—what do I do?

If you are injured at work you must notify your employer of the injury as soon as possible. This can be done in writing by filling out an accident/incident report form or it can be done verbally, with the documentation to follow. It is important that you put the incident in writing as soon as possible.

The person you should notify in the first instance is usually your immediate supervisor. The second call you should make is to HACSUassist on 1300 880 032, to lodge the incident report with us as a “back-up”.

You should report all incidents and accidents, even if there was no obvious injury at the time (eg, slipping on spilled liquid, stubbing your toe or pricking your finger with a needle). Reporting all incidents makes employers aware of safety hazards, but also serves to protect your interests (eg, you may have injured your back, fractured your toe or contracted a blood-borne disease).

All worksites should have readily available accident/incident report forms available to members. If yours does not, please contact your workplace HACSU Delegate, HACSU local organiser or HACSUassist.

Making a Claim

First, obtain a Workers Compensation Claim Form from your employer and fill it out.

You have six months from the date of your injury or accident to lodge your claim. However, the longer you take to make the claim the more likely it is the employer, or more precisely their insurance company, will dispute the claim.

Do not delay lodging a legitimate claim because you want to “wait and see” or do not want to be regarded as a nuisance.

HACSU strongly advises you to lodge your claim as soon as possible after the injury/accident.

The Workers Compensation Claim Form asks you to describe what happened. If there is not enough room in the space provided, write “See attached document” and provide a document with as much detail as you can remember. Relevant information includes dates, times, witnesses, how your injury occurred, what led to the incident, etc.

You are strongly advised to contact HACSUassist before submitting your Workers Compensation Claim Form, to ensure you have provided as much relevant information as possible.

All accounts requiring payment associated with lodging the Workers Compensation Claim—bills from doctors, physiotherapists, medication, etc—should be given to the employer for payment.

You can mail, hand-deliver or have someone lodge the Workers Compensation Claim and any other attached documents to your employer.

MEDICAL CERTIFICATE

If you are claiming for an injury that has required you to take time off work you will require a Workers Compensation Medical Certificate from your treating doctor. This certificate MUST be attached to the Workers Compensation Claim Form. You are not considered to have properly lodged a claim until the employer has both documents.

The Workers Compensation Medical Certificate must be supplied to your employer within 14 days of its issue to you. However, HACSU strongly recommends that you hand it to your employer as soon as it is issued, to avoid claims by your employer or their insurer  that it was lodged late, and therefore complicating your claim.

My Claim has been Disputed

You will be notified in writing if your claim is being disputed. This may come from your employer’s insurer.

The employer must state the reasons for the dispute, and they must be genuine.

Some reasons for disputing claims are:

  • Failure to notify the employer as soon as practicable
  • The employer believes there is a non-work related cause
  • A failure to provide Workers Compensation Medical Certificates
  • A failure to follow a Return-to-Work program

The employer must also refer the dispute to the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal for hearing.

The employer must do this within 84 days of receiving the Workers Compensation Claim from you.

If you receive notice that your claim is being disputed, contact HACSUassist immediately.

Your HACSU membership includes entitlement to representation from HACSU’s lawyers up to the dispute hearing stage in the Workers Rehabilitation and & Compensation Tribunal (see here).

My Claim has been Accepted

Members who make a claim for Workers Compensation are paid from the time the claim is lodged.

This does not mean the claim has been accepted or disputed at this stage: It simply means you are paid while the claim is processed.

If your claim is accepted the employer will notify you, usually in writing. This notification may come from your employer’s insurer.

How am I Paid?

After you lodge your claim you will receive Weekly Benefits, which replace the wages you would normally receive.

If your claim is accepted, the Weekly Benefits will continue.

The payment is calculated on the averaging of your earnings in the past 12 months, or the week’s earnings immediately prior to injury. You are paid whichever is greater.

Workers Compensation payments are:

  • 100% for the first 13 weeks
  • 85% from week 13 until week 78
  • 80% from week 78 until 9 years

Workers Compensation Medical Certificates must be provided to your employer for all time off and you will be required to participate in a Return-to-Work program.

Returning to Work

All employers with more than 20 employees are required to have a Rehabilitation Policy, which should be displayed in the workplace.

If you are incapacitated for more than 14 days from your date of injury the employer must provide a Return-to-Work Plan.

This involves the employer placing you with a Rehabilitation Provider who, accompanied by you, will talk to your treating doctor/s to establish a Return-to-Work Plan. This may include modified duties or retraining for other duties.

The purpose of a Return-to-Work Plan is to get you back to work. Experience shows that workers who spend too much time away from the workplace find it more difficult to return.

You must comply with the Return-to-Work Plan but if you have any concerns regarding it you should raise it at the time of its formation.

If you believe your concerns are not being adequately addressed, you should contact HACSUassist for further advice and assistance.

You will be asked to sign the Return-to-Work Plan and, once you do, you will be expected to abide by it or risk cancellation of your Weekly Benefits.