The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 was passed in the Queensland Parliament on Thursday night, despite being hotly contested.
The Bill makes a number of changes to the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) that will benefit employers, which include:
- requiring a prospective worker to disclose a pre-existing injury or medical condition, if requested to do so;
- allowing employers access to a prospective worker’s claims history in particular circumstances; and
- increasing the threshold for compensable psychiatric or psychological injuries.
These changes will commence upon assent. We will keep you updated when this occurs.
Notification of previous injuries and medical conditions
When requested to do so in writing by a prospective employer, a prospective worker will be required to disclose all pre-existing injuries of which they are aware of, that could reasonably be aggravated by performing their employment related duties.
The prospective employer will need to provide the prospective worker with information about the nature of the duties the subject of the employment for this purpose. Prospective employers will also be required to advise prospective workers that, if they do not comply with the request or supply false or misleading information, they will not be entitled to compensation or damages under the Act for any event that aggravates the non-disclosed pre-existing injury.
If a prospective worker is engaged prior to the disclosure (or before being requested to make the disclosure), their rights will unaffected by these changes.
Allowing access to claims history
Prospective employers may now request a prospective worker’s claims history summary from the proposed new regulator (for an administrative fee), provided that they have the prospective employee’s consent. There is no requirement under the Act for prospective workers to provide such consent.
The prospective employer must not disclose the contents of, or give access to, the document to anyone else.
Psychiatric and psychological injury
A worker will now need to show, in order to be eligible for workers’ compensation, that an injury resulting in a psychiatric or psychological disorder (or an aggravation of an existing disorder) arose out of, or in the course of, employment and that the employment is the major significant contributing factor to the injury or aggravation.
This amendment makes it more difficult for workers to access compensation for a psychiatric or psychological disorder.
A word of caution!
While these changes will provide prospective employers with more information about a prospective worker, it is important that employers:
- comply with the specific provisions of the Act to obtain this information lawfully;
- clearly and accurately articulate the nature of the duties the subject of employment so as to make any disclosure meaningful; and
- be careful not to fall foul of the discrimination legislation when making decisions based on this information.
As any unlawful conduct in this area is likely to have serious consequences, we recommend that employers obtain advice and assistance before implementing these changes.
For more information about these issues, please contact Belinda Winter via (07) 3231 2498.