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Everyone has the right to go to work each day, knowing they’ll come home safely. If you’ve been injured or become ill at work you may be entitled to make a claim for workers’ compensation to cover lost wages, medical and rehabilitation costs, retraining expenses or a lump sum payment for permanent injuries.
There have been a lot of changes to arrangements in NSW for seeking workers’ compensation in recent years. You could be forgiven for being a little confused about where to start. After all, workers’ compensation laws and entitlements are already a little hard to keep up with because they vary between states and territories and may be known as WorkCover, CTP or WorkSafe. Compensation and benefits can vary greatly depending on your injury and on the law you’re covered by.
If you’ve been injured at work in NSW, Littles has you covered. This blog explores the responsibilities of NSW employers to provide suitable duties for injured workers.
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Suffering from a work injury? This can be a stressful time for you and your family. Being able to ease yourself into work safely is an important part of your recovery. If you have an accepted workers’ compensation claim in NSW, you should be able to assume that you can return to work on ‘suitable duties’ when possible and then progress to pre-injury duties only once you are medically cleared to do so. However, this isn’t always the case. Read on to know your rights.
Suitable duties are duties that take into account
• your injury
• your ongoing ability to perform tasks, and
• duties that are designed to facilitate your return to work.
When assessing what tasks to offer you as an injured worker returning to the workplace, your employer should consider, among other things
• the opinion of your treating doctors
• your pre-injury duties
• an alteration to your working hours, including the time your duties are performed and for what duration
• training opportunities
• duties appropriate to your skills, education and training, and
• any modified equipment that may assist.
NSW workers’ compensation legislation provides that an employer must provide suitable work and duties for an employee who is injured. This means that the employer must, so far as reasonable practicable provide duties that are the same, or equivalent to the employment that you were doing before the injury.
NOTE: this does not apply if you voluntarily left your employment or were terminated by your employer. However, it is an offence to dismiss a worker due to a work-related injury, within six months of them ceasing work due to that injury.
Workers’ compensation insurer
The insurer will assist with a worker’s return to work by establishing an injury management program. The insurer will consult with the worker, the employer, SIRA and treating doctors.
State Insurance Regulatory Authority
SIRA is the government agency responsible for workers compensation. It deals with some types of complaints and attempts to resolve disputes between the insurer and/or employer. SIRA has developed guidelines that outline the obligations of all parties involved in the return to work process. Among other things, the guidelines state that employers must:
• participate and cooperate in the establishment of an injury management plan for an injured worker and give effect to that plan at the workplace
• comply with obligations imposed on the employer in the injury management plan written by the insurer
• cooperate with the insurer in engaging assistance from a workplace rehab provider if workers face barriers in returning to work, and
• cooperate with the insurer in providing retraining or different job opportunities to an injured worker who is unable to return to their pre-injury job.
If your employer has not complied with these requirements, you can contact the insurer to see if they can assist with resolving the dispute. They may be able to discuss the issue with the return to work coordinator and your employer. The insurer may also ask that an injury management consultant assist to help the worker and employer optimise both health and work outcomes.
Insurer not helping? The next step is to raise the dispute with SIRA or SafeWork NSW – or contact Littles. We are expert workers’ compensation lawyers and can ensure you get the support that you deserve.
SafeWork NSW is the state government organisation that assists with ensuring compliance with work health and safety requirements and procedures. SafeWork inspectors also have the responsibility of enforcing, where necessary, workers’ compensation laws in NSW. Among other things, SafeWork inspectors can make a determination and issue notices to the employer to provide workers with suitable duties.
Personal Injury Commission
The Personal Injury Commission has been established in order to assist in resolving workers compensation disputes between workers, insurers, and/or employers. The Personal Injury Commission has the ability to deal with disputes under NSW legislation, which includes issues with employers failing to provide suitable duties to a worker returning from an injury.
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Clearly, the workers’ compensation system can be complex, which is why it helps to seek quality legal advice as soon as possible. At Littles, we are experts in workplace injuries, and can help manage the process to ensure that you receive all appropriate entitlements and support. With Littles on your side, we can ensure that you get the fair treatment you deserve.
If your workers’ compensation claim has been rejected, or you would like to understand how to claim benefits to support you and your family while you are injured or ill, please get in touch for a no-obligation chat.
IMPORTANT: There are strict time limits for making and disputing a claim, so take advantage of our FREE initial consultation and get in touch.
Not only do we offer a FREE initial consultation we handle most insurance claims on a no win, no fee basis.
The Head of our NSW team, Jessica Cheung, is an expert in NSW workers’ compensation claims. If you think you might have a claim, reach out to Jessica and her team for high quality legal advice
Please note that this information is intended to provide general guidance only. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information. Appropriate professional advice should be sought based upon your individual circumstances. For further information, please contact Littles.