Recently we have had a number of Member issues centering on Workers Compensation. This can be a difficult area to manage appropriately – particularly if you have little experience or had little exposure to the process of lodging a claim.
As with most aspects of the workplace it is important that you understand your workplace rights in this area in order to keep both your employee and your insurer onside.
Here are some tips for you to follow:
1. Remember that until your insurer accepts the claim it is NOT Worker’s Compensation.
2. Notwithstanding that a claim may be being processed, of itself, this is no impediment to your terminating a worker prior to the acceptance of a claim – this would be dependent on the specific circumstances relating to the reason for termination – (naturally all the other elements of natural justice, fairness and equity should be observed).
3. Terminating a worker will not cancel out the Worker’s Compensation claim from being processed.
4. Don’t pay for any of your employee’s medical costs UNTIL the claim is accepted – you may forward copies to your insurer – if you do pay and the claim is then rejected then you will be unable to reclaim the costs without agreement from the worker or potentially litigation.
5. Make contact with the insurer and speak to the appointed Case Manager as soon as possible.
6. If there are ANY circumstances pertinent to the claim which you believe your insurer should know then relate them both verbally and in writing to your insurer.
7. Get your Broker onside and working on your behalf – they should also be providing you with support and assistance.
8. Provide your insurer and any Rehab Provider they appoint with a detailed copy of the physical requirements of the work the employee undertakes for you and specific ‘light duties’ you may have.
9. If the worker’s injuries are such that they cannot return to your workplace or they are unable to continue to perform the duties for which you employed them talk to your insurer about an alternative host employer.
10. Monitor your employee and keep communication open with them – they are still your employee. Invite them to attend tool box/staff meetings and keep them apprised of developments at work. This is NOT sick leave and it therefore does not attract some of the preclusions that go along with sick leave.
11. Talk to your insurer about any plans you may have to terminate a worker – yes you can terminate employment whilst on Workers Compensation but there is a very specific way of doing this. Keep your insurer in the loop.
12. Your employee has specific obligations whilst on WC. They must attend prescribed medical appointments and must comply with the requirements of any return to work plan. Failure to do these things can often be a trigger for pursuing termination.
13. Remember that terminating a worker does not cancel out the Workers Compensation claim.
14. Be proactive – if you are not sure about something call and speak to us and/or ask your Broker or Insurer.
15. The fact that a worker is on Worker’s Compensation does not prevent you from making a position redundant as a result of operational review and restructure – again this will not cancel the claim.
16. You have the right to request attendance at Medical Appointments with your workers GP – think about utilising this as part of routine injury management.
17. You can ask for a second opinion and refer to another medical practitioner.
18. Make sure you have a documented Workers Compensation and Injury Management/Return to Work Plan in place in your workplace.
19. Protracted Worker’s Compensation claims can be a highly frustrating and intensely annoying issue – by being consistently pro active and knowing and exercising your rights you can help keep these from blowing out.
Need more? Call us for advice and support – remember however that most of the time a simple telephone call will not be able to address these sorts of matters which can be complex and multi levelled.