It is compulsory in Queensland, for employers to supply their employees with workers compensation schemes. Although the employer may not be at fault, the employee is still entitled to compensation if they had received their injury while at work. Employees, who make a claim to get compensation, aren’t necessarily hurt physically. Some are discriminated against, due to their gender, marital status and some are unfairly dismissed from their jobs, leaving them devastated and jobless. Without workers compensation, employees who have been injured would be expected to have found the money to support themselves as well as their family and make up for any of the lost wages, due to them not being able to work. Worker’s Compensation is set up to protect employees financially; there are no costs associated with the employee for worker’s compensation, but rather the employer.
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Not only are there laws to protect employees, but there are also laws to protect an employer and their rights and responsibilities. Laws are placed to protect employers on how much an employee can gain from an injury caused while they are at work. This law was established for most employment by State Workers Compensation Statutes.
STATUTORY AND COMMON LAW CLAIMS
In Queensland, injured employees may take two paths in gaining compensation for their injuries. These include statutory and common law claims. A statutory benefit is used to compensate an employee if they have suffered from an injury at work, although it may have not been the employer’s fault. Compensation covers include hospital expenses, medical expenses, and a loss of wage due to them not being able to work or a straight out payment of compensation to cover the damages. For those employees who suffer from injuries or illness due to their employers being at fault, they are able to make a common law claim. These employees may sue their employers for negligence. Common law compensation includes pain and suffering and legal costs as well as hospital and medical expenses. Employees are able to lodge a common law claim, for up to three years from the day of the incident. After the claim has been put forward, it would take approximately 12 months for the matter to be resolved.
ESTABLISHMENT OF WORKCOVER: QUEENSLAND
Workers Compensation Board of Queensland was replaced in 1996 by a division of a government department with an independent statutory body now known as WorkCover Queensland. During 1997, employers were given the opportunity to self-insure. Apart from the granting of self-insurance permits, WorkCover sustained to be a contributor of accident assurance. In the WorkCover Queensland Amendment Act 1999, the following bullet points were covered:
- Reverting to the previous definition of ‘injury’
- Reverting to the previous definition of ‘worker’
- Self-insurance criteria (increase in minimum workers, requirements for occupational health and safety, and assumption of liability for their trial of claims, no third party outsourcing of claims management)
- A review council to oversee the review process and the Medical Assessment Tribunals
- Removal of the ten per cent premium surcharge
- A solvency requirement for full funding reduced to 20%
(*Quoted from WorkCover Queensland)
WORKERS COMPENSATION ACT 1916
Workers Compensation Act 1916 stated earlier legislation and became the basis of today’s legislation, establishing that insurance was compulsory for employers and comprehensive coverage for all employees within Australia, with the exclusion of government sections.
Rehabilitation is the reinstatement of an employee’s wellbeing and capability to be able to do their job appropriately. Rehabilitation generally engages programs of clinical and vocational assistances with the objective of restoring injured workers to an agreeable career as soon as possible. In a workers compensation scheme, the notion of rehabilitation is more focused on because the importance is placed on the worker returning back to work in an appropriate time frame.
WORKERS COMPENSATION CASES
There are many cases that support the statement ‘workers compensation is a necessary expense for all employers.’ After referring to appendix one and two (Carroll v Melbourne Metropolitan Transit Authority) and (Scholem v NSW Dept of Health (NSW District Court, Sydney, May 27, 1992) it is easy to see how employees are exposed to hazards on a daily basis. Although many employers may not be aware of the dangers they are putting their employees though, it is their responsibility to look after their workers as if they didn’t have workers, they wouldn’t have a business.
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