Updated 2020 legal advice on workers’ compensation

04/05/2020

By Jenny Forti, Principal Lawyer: Injury Law

Workers should be informed of their rights and how they can claim compensation in the case of work-related injuries. The guide below reflects the most up-to-date information on workers’ compensation in 2020, including how to submit a claim, and what workers’ rights are.

What is workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides benefits to workers who suffer an injury or develop a medical condition in the course of, or as a result of, their employment.

These injuries might include suffering an injury at work on a specific day or developing a medical condition over a period of time due to the nature of the work performed.

Workers’ compensation is often referred to as WorkCover.

Workers’ compensation claims are managed by a number of insurance companies on behalf of the Victorian WorkCover Authority, also often referred to as WorkSafe.

Who qualifies for workers’ compensation?

In order to qualify for workers’ compensation, a worker must have suffered an injury which has occurred due to or in the course of their employment.

Does workers’ compensation pay full salary?

In short, no.

If a worker is unfit to perform the job that they were doing at the time of their injury (their “pre-injury duties”), they are entitled to receive a weekly payment.

Weekly payments are paid at a percentage of an injured worker’s income prior to their injury. The payment rates are as follows:

  • First the first 13 weeks of incapacity to perform their pre-injury duties, a worker is entitled to be paid at a rate of 95 percent of their earnings prior to their injury. This is referred to as a worker’s PIAWE (pre-injury average weekly earnings).
  • From weeks 14 to 130 of incapacity to perform their pre-injury duties, a worker is entitled to be paid at a rate of 80 percent of their PIAWE.
  • For the first 52 weeks of a worker’s entitlement to weekly payments, the calculation of their payment rate will include any regular overtime and shift allowance that they performed in the 52 weeks prior to their injury.

A worker’s entitlement to weekly payments only continues beyond 130 weeks in limited circumstances.

How do I get workers’ compensation insurance?

Workers’ compensation insurance is required to be taken out by the worker’s employer, not by the worker personally.

If a worker is self-employed, then it is a good idea to get advice from their accountant about insurance options.

Is superannuation paid on workers’ compensation?

Superannuation is paid to injured workers only after they have been receiving weekly payments for a period of 52 weeks. The superannuation is calculated on the amount of weekly payments that the worker receives from week 53 onwards.

How do I get compensation for a work injury?

Compensation for a work injury is accessed by lodging a Workers Injury Claim Form. An injured worker is required to lodge the claim form with their employer as soon as practicable after they have suffered their injury.

Once the employer has received the form, they must forward it on to their workers’ compensation insurer within 10 days. Within 28 days, the insurer must provide a written response to the injured worker, either accepting or rejecting their claim.

What are the types of compensation that an injured worker is entitled to?

Under workers’ compensation, a worker can be entitled to the following compensation:

  • Weekly payments if they are unfit to perform their pre-injury duties
  • Reimbursement for their reasonable medical expenses
  • Lump sum compensation if their injury is permanent. This can include a lump sum for a permanent impairment and compensation for their pain and suffering.
How to understand cost agreements with workers’ compensation lawyers?

Gordon Legal acts for injured workers on a no win no fee basis under certain conditions. This means that an injured worker will not be charged for the legal work done on their case until the successful resolution of their claim.

What to do if this information applies to you

At Gordon Legal, we understand that workers’ compensation claims are a personal issue.

For personalised and individual advice, we offer consultations to discuss your matter.

Please call Gordon Legal (Melbourne) on (03) 9603 3000 or our Geelong office on (03) 5202 2729 to speak with a member of our team.

Given the current environment, we are providing consultations over the phone, Zoom, WebEx or Skype.

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