When an employer appeals a review decision to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC), the Office of Industrial Relations defends the review decision on behalf of the Workers' Compensation Regulator in the QIRC.
The employer lodging the appeal is referred to as the appellant and the respondent is the Workers' Compensation Regulator.
The Workers' Compensation Regulator is the proper respondent to an appeal made by an employer, as it is the Workers' Compensation Regulator's decision that is the subject of the appeal. Further, the statutory, no fault workers' compensation scheme in Queensland is not intended to pit workers and employers against one another in adversarial legal proceedings.
This does not mean that the Workers' Compensation Regulator represents a worker's interests in the appeal. Rather it means that the Workers' Compensation Regulator defends a review decision has been made that is in a worker's favour.
An Appeals Officer from the Appeals Unit within the Office of Industrial Relations may contact a worker to discuss their position regarding the appeal and may require cooperation in obtaining necessary evidence, statements and documents relevant to the appeal.
In order to defend a review decision, the Office of Industrial Relations may engage legal counsel to appear at the hearing of the appeal for the Workers' Compensation Regulator. The legal counsel advocates for the Workers' Compensation Regulator at the hearing and is instructed by an Appeals Officer. The legal counsel may advise the Workers' Compensation Regulator on prospects of success and protect their interests.
Can a worker join the appeal?
A worker has a right to join the appeal. If a worker chooses to do this they will need to tell the QIRC if they want to make representations during the appeal. There are responsibilities and obligations associated with being a party to an appeal, and the QIRC will issue orders about how the appeal will progress to the hearing, and a worker will need to comply with these orders. A worker may therefore choose to seek their own legal advice, but they will have to meet any associated costs.
When will an appeal go before the QIRC?
An appeal will go before the QIRC in two circumstances:
- For an initial conference: this is designed to assist the parties with clarifying their case and obligations on appeal (if this is required) and when it will be heard by the allocated Commissioner.
- For a hearing: sometimes appeals are resolved without the need for a hearing, but if a hearing is needed it may be several months before the case is heard by the QIRC.
If a matter goes to a hearing, a worker will be required as a witness, and will be sent an Attendance Notice. An Appeals Officer will contact a worker before a hearing to discuss this process.
If an employer wins their appeal, any compensation paid to a worker by the insurer up to the date of the decision or settlement will not have to be repaid by a worker.
Need some advice?
The Queensland Government provides funding to the Queensland Council of Unions to provide an independent Workers' Compensation Advisory Service for Queensland workers. This service is free and completely independent from the Office of Industrial Relations or any insurer.
Workers can have unlimited access to this service and do not need to be a union member. However the Queensland Council of Unions cannot provide legal advice or representation.
The Queensland Council of Unions can be contacted by telephone on 1800 102 166 or (07) 3844 6169.
Alternatively, a worker may seek their own legal advice, however a worker will need to meet the costs. The Office of Industrial Relations is unable to guide or advise a worker about whether to seek legal advice.
The Queensland Law Society can refer workers to law firms in their geographic location that are experienced in personal injury matters.