Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019
The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 22 October 2019. The Act implements key recommendations from the 2018 Five-Year Review of Queensland’s Workers’ Compensation Scheme.
The new legislation amends the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (the Act) by enhancing the workers’ compensation claims experience for injured workers, and providing more support for vulnerable workers, particularly those with psychological injuries, to recover from their injury, rehabilitate and return to work.
When will the amendments take effect?
The amendments progressively come into effect from 30 October 2019 to 1 July 2020 to enable employers and insurers sufficient time to administratively prepare for, and comply with the new legislation.
Amendments that commence on 30 October 2019
Enhanced psychological support
- Insurers are now required to take all reasonable steps to provide reasonable support services to workers suffering from psychological injuries before their workers’ compensation claim is decided to assist in reducing the severity, duration and recurrence of mental illness. This applies to injuries sustained from 30 October 2019.
- The definition of psychological injury now requires a worker’s employment to be ‘a’ significant contributing factor to the injury, rather than ‘the major’ significant factor. This applies to injuries sustained from 30 October 2019.
Insurer discretion to waive time limit if a worker is certified with an incapacity
- Insurers now have the discretion to accept claims lodged outside the six-month legislated timeframe, to ensure workers who attempt to manage their injury at work are not disadvantaged. This applies to claims made from 30 October 2019.
Rehabilitation and Return to Work - access to accredited programs
- Insurers are now required to extend access to an accredited rehabilitation and return to work program to workers at the end of their statutory claim if they have not returned to work because of their injury. This requirement will apply to workers who have stopped receiving compensation for an injury under section 144A, 168 or 190(2) from 30 October 2019.
Apologies and expressions of regret exempt from consideration in common law claims
- Expressions of regret and apologies provided by employers following workplace injuries are now exempt from being considered in a common law claim. This is intended to encourage employers to give apologies and reduce the distress experienced by injured workers. Any expression of regret or apology made prior to 30 October 2019 will be inadmissible if a relevant notice of claim for damages is made after 30 October 2019.
WorkCover-funded health and safety initiatives
- The Act now provides clarity that WorkCover Queensland can fund and provide programs and incentives that support employers improving health and safety performance, in consultation with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and other relevant regulators.
Amendments that commence on 1 July 2020 include:
Requirement for self-insured employers to report injuries and payments to their insurer
- From 1 July 2020, self-insured employers will be required to report injuries and any payments made to workers to their insurer, to align with the current requirements imposed on all other employers.
Workers’ compensation scheme coverage of unpaid interns
- From 1 July 2020, workers’ compensation coverage will be extended to unpaid interns to ensure these vulnerable individuals have access to relevant entitlements in the event of an injury.
Rehabilitation and Return to Work - coordinator details, qualifications and courses
- From 1 July 2020, employers will be required to provide the details of their rehabilitation and return to work coordinators (RRTWCs) to their insurer, including a statement of how the coordinator is appropriately qualified. Employers will be required to provide the details of all appointed coordinators within 12 months of this date.
- The Office of Industrial Relations (OIR) can approve training courses for RRTWCs. However, attending an OIR-approved training course will not be mandatory or the only way to achieve appropriate RRTWC qualifications. It will simply be an option for an employer to demonstrate that the RRTWC is appropriately qualified. Further detail on approved courses will be published in early 2020.
- Existing RRTWCs will not need to do any additional training unless the employer is not satisfied that the qualifications, skills and experience of their appointed RRTWC make them appropriately qualified to fulfil the functions of a RRTWC.
- Guidance material on the qualifications, skills and experience considered appropriate for RRTWCs will be published in early 2020.
The Act and explanatory notes are available on the Queensland legislation website.
Guidance material on the changes are being developed and will be published soon to assist employers and injured Queensland workers understand the changes.
- Last updated
- 18 November 2019
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