Workers CompensationWorkers Compensation – are you entitled to it, and how to claim

Each State of Australia has its own legislation to deal with Workers Compensation, each with its own management Agency, so it’s important that first of all you establish which Agency to deal with – in Western Australia the Agency is called WorkCover WA.

To the list can be added Comcare, which covers Commonwealth Government employees in all States.

What types of workers can make a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Legal definitions are used to describe the types of workers entitled to compensation for injury at work in Western Australia, published by WorkCover WA.

Under the “Workers’ Compensation and Management Act 1981” the term “workers” can include those who are classed as:

  • Full or Part Time
  • Casual or seasonal
  • On piecework rates or commission
  • Contractors or sub-contractors (depending on working arrangements)
  • Working Directors – may own some of a Company and be compliant with the definition.

The aim of the legislation is to ensure that as many workers in the broadest sense are covered.

Under what circumstances am I entitled to compensation?

Provided you have satisfied the “worker” definition, if you suffer a WORK-RELATED injury or develop a disease under working conditions which means you require medical treatment and/or time off work, you may make a claim for workers’ compensation.

Note that there is no requirement to allocate fault or blame to either worker or employer.

What to do if you think you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation

If you’ve been injured in some way, then hopefully you have received some first aid or medical treatment, or if an injury is more serious, an ambulance has been called out.

The injury needs to be reported to your employer, and then as soon as is practicable you should see your doctor and obtain a “First Certificate of Capacity” – more than anything this is designed to help your doctor assess and manage you back to health and work, so really it’s a standard document provided for your doctor to complete.

The next job for you to do (or get done for you if unable to yourself) is to complete a WorkersCompensation Claim Form.

Make sure you keep copies of these two documents before you hand them to your employer.

The employer only has 5 days to lodge the forms with their Insurer, who in turn must notify you within 14 days of first receiving the form of its decision regarding your claim.

One of three things can then happen – the claim can be:

  • Accepted – you will get weekly payments if you can’t work, and allowable expenses
  • Disputed – you won’t get any payments, but a reason must be forthcoming. However there are steps that can be taken if you disagree with the decision.
  • Pended – your claim is “put on hold” until more information can be sought, but only for an additional 10 days, after which the claim reverts back to a “disputed” claim – but this may not be the end of the matter, as an application to the “Workers’ Compensation Conciliation Service” can be made. 

What if I need time to consider whether I should seek Compensation?

In the case of a disease possibly sustained through your work, there may not be a clear-cut date at which that disease was first contracted.

Under these circumstances a claim should be made within 12 months of discovering the disease – but even if the 12 months has elapsed then legal advice should be sought, as there are steps that can still be taken to initiate a claim.

And the outcome?

The best case scenario is that your injury will be treated successfully so that your Doctor is then able to issue you with a “total capacity to return to work” description on his completed “Certificate of Capacity” that you started off with.

If on the other hand your Doctor assesses that you only have partial capacity to return to work, then all is not lost, as a “Return to Work Program” is required to be put in place by your Employer to help in your rehabilitation.

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