Henry Carus + Associates has unparalleled experience with the workers’ compensation system in Victoria. Our team has been assisting clients with WorkCover claims for over 30 years, and one of our senior solicitors was active in recent amendments to the legislation governing the WorkCover system.
As a leader in the field of VIC workers’ compensation, we also frequently receive enquiries about employment law. Some of the most common questions concern unfair dismissals and discrimination.
In this article we explain the differences between WorkCover claims and employment law claims in Victoria. If you have been injured in the workplace, please don’t hesitate to call Henry Carus + Associates at 03 9001 1318 today for a free, no-obligation review of your case.
What Is WorkCover Law?
WorkCover is the government scheme that provides support by way of benefits and compensation when a worker is injured in the course of his/her employment, commonly referred to as being injured on the job. The scheme is managed overall by WorkSafe Victoria, the governmental agency that oversees workplace health and safety in Victoria.
In general, WorkSafe Victoria contracts out many aspects of the administration of the scheme to private companies, some of which are insurance companies, to deliver the benefits to the injured worker or their dependant. However, at times an employer can seek to become a self-insured employer, providing such benefits directly to its employees.
The benefits available through a WorkCover injury claim may include:
- Weekly income payments, commonly called “weekly benefits”
- Payment of medical and related health expenses
- Permanent impairment lump-sum payment (if your injuries meet certain statutory criteria)
- Superannuation benefits for those receiving weekly benefits for more than 1 year
- Entitlements for dependent family members of a worker who is killed on the job
To start receiving benefits, you must lodge a claim with your employer. Your employer has an obligation to forward the claim form to its authorised WorkSafe agent. The WorkSafe agent will review your claim within 28 days. After your claim is reviewed, you will receive a notice on whether it is accepted or rejected. If your claim is accepted, the notice will include information on the benefits you are eligible to receive.
WorkCover benefits are provided on a “no-fault” basis, which means that you don’t have to prove that your employer or someone else was negligent in order to qualify. However, in some cases your on-the-job injury may have been the result of negligence of one or more parties. In these cases, our lawyers can pursue a common law personal injury claim on your behalf.
What Is Employment Law?
Unlike workers’ compensation, where each state has its own system, the federal government of Australia has jurisdiction over all employment law matters. The Fair Work Commission handles questions pertaining to wage and hour laws, collective bargaining, and more.
One of the key roles of the Fair Work Commission is resolving workplace disputes. These include claims of:
- Unfair dismissal
- Workplace bullying
- Discrimination and unlawful termination
- Rights violations
- Workplace policy violations
- Favoritism in the workplace
You must file an application in order to get a matter before the Fair Work Commission. In cases involving dismissal or termination, the Commission will first institute conciliation proceedings. Conciliation is a method of alternative dispute resolution where staff members of the Commission work with the parties to try to come to a mutual agreement on the matter at hand.
If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, the Fair Work Commission may schedule a hearing at which all parties in the matter have to appear. The decision provided at the conclusion of the hearing is legally binding. In cases of unfair dismissal or unlawful termination, the Commission may order that the terminated employee be reinstated and/or that compensation be paid for lost wages.
Parties appearing before the Fair Work Commission have the option to be represented by a lawyer. However, the Commission staff member overseeing the matter will only provide permission for a lawyer to be involved if it will improve the efficiency of the proceeding or out of concerns for fairness and effectiveness.
Can Henry Carus + Associates Help?
As you can see, there are many significant differences between workers’ compensation claims and employment disputes in VIC. While the Fair Work Commission provides for limited involvement of legal counsel in the process, having a lawyer represent you in a WorkCover claim is more often advantageous for getting the benefits you deserve.
Some of the ways an experienced WorkCover lawyer can help you include:
- Providing knowledgeable guidance of what to expect during the WorkSafe claims process
- Disputing the decision to reject your WorkCover claim
- Disputing underpayment of benefits or the decision to terminate benefits
- Assisting you with conciliation proceedings and medical panel referrals
- Taking your claim or a decision in relation to your claim to court if Accident Compensation Conciliation Service declares your case a genuine dispute
- Assisting you in gaining access to common law compensation by submitting or litigating for a Serious Injury Certificate
- Representing you in a common law claim if your workplace injury was the result of negligence
If you have been unfairly dismissed from your job or you suspect that your termination was unlawful, Henry Carus + Associates can refer you to a lawyer or law firm specialising in Australian employment law, as this is not one of our practice areas.
Contact Our WorkCover Lawyers Today
The WorkCover system and Australian labour law are both complex. If you need assistance with a workers’ compensation claim, Henry Carus + Associates can provide you with the experienced representation you deserve.
Please call 03 9001 1318 or contact Henry Carus + Associates online for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our WorkCover lawyers serve clients in Melbourne and throughout VIC.