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What to do if my employer doesn’t want me to lodge a WorkCover claim?

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Sustaining an injury at work that affects your capacity to keep working can be devastating.  It can affect you financially, emotionally and your life can take an unpredictable turn.

While the correct process to be followed by an employer when you sustain an injury at work is to help you lodge a WorkCover claim, your employer may not be willing to do so.

Instead, your employer may offer to pay you privately for the cost of medical expenses for your work-related injury or even offer to pay your wages for the period you are unable to do your pre-injury job.

This may sound tempting at first instance and you may even feel that your employer is assisting you through your difficult times, however the reality is that this is unethical on their part.

If you decide to accept the payments made to you by the employer privately, you’re essentially letting go of your entitlements under the WorkCover scheme and the protection this scheme gives to injured workers.

You should also remember that in accepting such payments, the discretion to pay you is in the hands of your employer, and your payments can be terminated/refused by the employer at any time with no justification.

So your safest option for yourself, is to make sure that a WorkCover claim is lodged in the right way. It’s your right as an injured worker and will ensure that you’re protected under the WorkCover scheme while you remain injured. It will also eventually assist you in gradual and safe return to work.

Benefits of lodging a WorkCover claim

If you’re unable to return to work because of your work-related injury, the WorkCover insurer will pay you up to 95% of your pre-injury average weekly earnings for the first 13 weeks, and thereafter up to 80% of your pre-injury average weekly earnings for a further 130 weeks. Though payments may continue beyond 130 weeks in limited circumstances.

You’ll also be paid reasonable medical and like expenses which will include medical treatment for your injury and other related expenses such as household assistance and travel expenses.

While you’re focusing on recovering, the WorkCover scheme will also ensure that your job is protected. Though this is often part of the workers’ compensation stigma, the employer cannot terminate you for the first 12 months of sustaining the work-related injury and if you’re not able to return to work.

Note: There will be proper return to work plans put in place for when you are able to return to work. The employer cannot put unnecessary pressure on you to immediately return to pre-injury duties.

You may also be entitled to lump sum compensation.

Read more things you should know about WorkCover claims in Queensland and things to know about making a WorkCover claim in Victoria.

What do I do if I sustain an injury at work?

First things first, immediately inform your employer that you have sustained an injury at work.

Visit your General Practitioner and obtain a WorkCover Certificate/s of Capacity. Make sure to be clear about the circumstances of the injury to your doctor. Your employer cannot force you to attend a medical practitioner of their preference – it’s your right to choose which doctor you wish to attend.

Complete a Worker’s Injury Claim form and hand this over to your employer with your Certificate/s of Capacity. The employer will then forward this form to their worker’s compensation insurer within 10 calendar days.

If the employer refuses and/or fails to do so, send this form/copy of the form directly to WorkSafe. You can also lodge the Worker’s Injury claim form immediately after the injury, prior to seeing your doctor and obtaining a Certificate of Capacity.

Even if your employer doesn’t have worker’s compensation insurance in place, you should still hand this claim form to the employer as they are obligated to send it to WorkSafe within a certain timeframe.

Once your WorkCover claim is accepted, the worker’s compensation insurer will be in touch with you and you will be paid your weekly payments, including back payments and reasonable medical and like expenses.

Informing your employer about an injury sustained at work, can be a daunting process to many, due to fears about losing the job and mistreatment at work.

However, you need to keep in mind that it is your legal right to lodge a WorkCover claim and your employer cannot put undue pressure on you not to do so or terminate your employment for doing so.

If your employer insists on paying your medical expenses privately, talk to them and be persistent with your need to lodge a WorkCover claim.