There is a tussle taking place in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) regarding the right of an employer to be heard in an appeal by a worker against a decision of the Regulator.
Two recent cases have come to very different conclusions in relation to the employer’s right to be heard.
In the first case, the QIRC found that a self-insurer and an employer did not have the right to be heard at an appeal by a worker against a decision of the Regulator. The QIRC specifically noted that there is no provision in the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (WCRA) that allows for a self-insurer or an employer to be heard in an application brought by a worker for the review of a decision of the Regulator.
While the QIRC accepted that there was a body of authority supporting the discretionary power of the QIRC to make an order giving an employer (rather than a self-insurer) a right to be heard in such an appeal, the QIRC was of the opinion that it was not bound to follow the previous authority. It is also important to note that this case involved secondary issues surrounding the late filing of the application by the employer or self-insurer, specifically where the application to be heard was filed within one week of the commencement of the hearing. Accordingly, it was determined that neither the self-insurer nor the employer was able to be heard at the appeal.
However, in the second (and more recent) case the QIRC considered that an employer did have a right to be heard in an appeal by a worker. This decision was based on the Industrial Relations Act 1999 and considered the discretionary power granted under section 320 in combination with section 582 of the WCRA. The QIRC determined that there was sufficient authority in the Industrial Court of Queensland to find that the employer did have a right to be heard and that the QIRC was bound by the decisions of that Court.
These cases confirm that a self-insurer does not have a right to be heard in an appeal by a worker. However, the rights of an employer are less clear. If previous authority is followed, the QIRC does have a discretionary power to allow an employer to be heard at an appeal. However, these cases indicate the QIRC will not always follow previous authority.
Should you have any queries regarding statutory reviews or appeals, please contact a member of our team.
To read the full cases: