Published: 11 December 2020
Author: Simone Welsh
Will making a WorkCover claim affect my job or my boss?
As expert WorkCover lawyers, our team has advised thousands of injured clients, many of whom were reluctant to lodge an injury claim because they feared either for their jobs or the effect their claim might have on the business.
While understandable, these fears are unfounded because a WorkCover claim should have no impact on the security of your job or the viability of your employer.
This is because the WorkCover scheme in Victoria protects workers’ jobs through legislation. It also works as a gigantic insurance scheme so WorkCover payouts come out of the Government scheme, not the employer’s pocket.
Here are some of the common questions we’re asked about injured workers who are reluctant to make claims.
Will my employer go broke if I lodge a claim?
The employer has certain obligations to meet when a claim is made but the majority of any payment must come from the WorkCover insurer. As a general rule, the employer must pay a small amount in medical expenses and the first two weeks of leave if you require time off work after the injury. At this point the insurer steps in and pays any additional expenses. The employer's premium will also increase marginally but this should not be of concern to you.
My boss reckons it is better to have my injury kept "off the books”. Is this OK?
No. Not now. Not ever.
We see many people that have had their boss offer to pay the medical expenses on their behalf instead of putting a WorkCover claim in. This is a very bad idea.
Any delay in lodging a claim for WorkCover can make it more difficult to have your claim accepted. It also means there is no record of medical treatment held by the WorkCover insurer. The main issue t is if you start off requiring something relatively inexpensive such as physiotherapy or hydrotherapy treatment, and after some time it becomes apparent that you require surgery. This is when we most often see injured people seeking legal counsel.
Employers are sometimes happy to pay the physiotherapy bills but when it comes to paying for surgery, they baulk.
Will I be sacked if I lodge a WorkCover claim?
It is illegal for an employer to treat you differently, let alone sack you, because you have lodged a WorkCover claim. There are protections within the WorkCover legislation as well as the Fair Work Act to protect you from a dismissal or other adverse action from your employer should you lodge a WorkCover claim.
If you are ever threatened with dismissal by a supervisor or employer for lodging a WorkCover claim, you are advised to report the matter to your lawyer or the Victorian WorkCover Authority immediately.
I probably should go on WorkCover but I don't want to sue my boss. What can I do?
Lodging a WorkCover claim does not automatically mean that you are going to Court or that you are suing your employer.
There is no requirement that an employer or anyone else must have acted unreasonably or breached their duty of care for a worker to have a WorkCover claim accepted. In the vast majority of cases the only test that is that the injury occurred at work or during some work-related activity.
This in itself triggers an entitlement to medical and like expenses and if necessary weekly payments. It may also trigger an entitlement to a lump sum depending upon the extent of the injury.
Australians are fortunate to have a health care system that largely caters to medical requirements. If injured at work it makes sense to access and leverage all of the benefits available to ensure the best recovery and healing process available.