If you are unfortunate enough to be injured at work it is important you know your rights and your employers legal obligations.
Obviously most workers feel anxious and concerned when they are unfortunate enough to be injured at work.
Some of the things that run through the injured workers mind are; am I going to be paid? Will they believe me? Who do I tell? And what happens if I can’t recover?
Most employers in the meat industry make applying for workers compensation a straight forward process however there are some unscrupulous employers that make it as difficult as they possibly can.
The following is a step by step process on making a claim for compensation if you are unfortunately injured at work.
- Tell your supervisor/person in charge you have been injured.
- Seek medical treatment and make sure the doctor treating you knows it is a work related injury.
- Take all the paperwork to your employer or WorkCover direct, fill out the relevant paperwork and lodge the application for compensation.
- Attend medical appointments and participate in rehabilitation.
- Call your union organiser if you have any concerns with your claim.
These are some of the common questions the union receives on a daily basis.
WHO DO I TELL?
Notify the person in charge you have been injured.
This will normally be your immediate supervisor.
Depending on the size of the place you work this may be someone else i.e. (owner, manager or leading hand)
This person will normally refer you to their Workplace Health and Safety department. Depending on the severity of the injury you may be required to fill out an incident report on how the injury occurred.
If the injury is a severe one and requires immediate medical attention the paperwork can wait and medical treatment should be the number one priority.
First aid should be administered and transportation for further medical treatment should be arranged by the company in some instances this could involve calling an ambulance.
DO I HAVE TO GO TO THE DOCTOR MY EMPLOYER TELLS ME TO GO TO?
Obviously if your injury is severe you should attend the nearest medical facility available. However you are entitled to get a second opinion at a time you are able to do so.
If the injury allows, you can attend your regular doctor and receive treatment from a doctor you know and have trust in.
At no time can you be made to see a particular doctor for primary treatment of your injury. Your employer may require you to receive a second opinion from another doctor and you must attend, however, in most circumstances your primary treating doctor can be your choice.
The Union has received too many calls to count from members who have been told they must go to a particular doctor. This is not correct and in most circumstances it is your right to see a doctor of your choice.
DO I HAVE TO SIGN THE AUTHORITY FOR MY EMPLOYER TO SPEAK TO MY DOCTOR?
NO, NO and NO.
Privacy laws protect information shared between a doctor and a patient therefore your employer must get you to sign an authority to speak with your doctor directly.
If for any reason you do not want this to happen or if you feel you would rather have your employer correspond with your doctor through you do not sign the authority.
You cannot be pressured to sign it and if you do not want to sign it: don’t! It’s your right.
WHO DO I LODGE MY CLAIM WITH?
Most workplaces will assist in lodging the claim and in fact it is a requirement under the Act.
However if you feel you want to deal with the claim yourself it can be lodged with Work Cover direct or if your employer is self insured, with the self insurance department at your workplace.
WHEN SHOULD I LODGE A CLAIM?
The AMIEU recommends that anyone who has sustained a work related injury should lodge a claim as soon as they can. Some employers have introduced in house rehabilitation programs and offer light or alternative duties without the worker lodging a claim. This process is fraught with danger as you only have six months after becoming aware you have an injury to lodge a claim.
The Union has witnessed instances where an employee, with a work related injury, has participated in an employer initiated light duties program only to find that after six months this program stops. They are unable to make a claim because six months have expired and then the employer demands that the worker has to prove their fitness for work.
In a lot of circumstances the worker cannot do so.
The worker cannot make a claim because the six months is up and the employer refuses to employ them stating it is their duty of care prevents them from letting the employee work.
This is why it is paramount to always lodge a claim for a work related injury promptly.
HOW MUCH WILL I GET PAID?
If you are on total incapacitation you will receive 85% of your NWE (Normal Weekly Earnings) for the first six months and then 65% after that.
If you are on alternative duties you will receive 100% for the work you are doing and then 85% of the difference between the wages for that work and your normal job. In most circumstances this will work out to about 90% of your NWE.
WHAT IS MY NWE?
Your NWE is your normal weekly earnings.
This includes incentive payments, allowances and any regular overtime performed. In most cases this is an average of your last 12 months earnings.
CAN I BE SACKED FOR MAKING A WORKER COMPENSATION CLAIM?
The workers compensation laws protect a worker from being terminated from their employment for a period of twelve months if the termination is a direct result of the work related injury.
WHAT HAPPENS IF MY CLAIM IS NOT ACCEPTED?
Contact the union immediately because in most cases an appeal can be lodged, there are time limits on this process.
ANY MEMBER WHO HAS A PROBLEM WITH A WORKER COMPENSATION CLAIM SHOULD CONTACT THEIR RELEVANT ORGANISER IMMEDIATELY.
REMEMBER WORK RELATED INJURIES CAN LAST A LIFE TIME.