WorkCover payments are made to workers who have suffered an injury during the course of their employment and allow the injured worker to receive income while they heal from their injury. Usually, an injured worker will recuperate and return to work, but in instances where the worker does not heal to full capacity or has an otherwise unpleasant experience while attempting to seek compensation, they may feel inclined to resign from their job.
If you live in Queensland, have been injured at work and are receiving WorkCover benefits you can change jobs, but there are some things you need to know about your obligations to both your employer and WorkCover.
Can I quit my job if I am receiving WorkCover payments?
Yes, a worker who is currently receiving WorkCover payments may quit their job and move to a new role.
It is important to speak to your treating doctor about resigning from your job, even if you have been off work due to your work-related injury for some time, as they will be able to help you plan your recovery and a timeline for returning to work, particularly if you are returning to work with a new employer.
What will happen to my WorkCover weekly benefits and medical expenses if I change jobs?
If you change jobs while on WorkCover, your medical and rehabilitation expenses will not be affected, but your weekly payments may be terminated.
WorkCover will assess the following before making a determination:
- your capacity to work;
- whether your new wages are an increase or a decrease on your current payments;
- whether you were dismissed from your previous role; and
- whether the new role is conducive to your capacity and expected healing time.
As injured workers are required to provide ongoing medical certificates, your medical certificate may list restrictions about the number of hours you can work or the tasks you can and cannot undertake. If the new role exceeds the working hours or capacity, it could impact your workers compensation claim and you should seek legal advice to understand your unique set of circumstances.
Do I owe any obligations to WorkCover if I change jobs while receiving payments?
Yes, you will need to inform WorkCover Queensland if you are changing jobs. In addition, until your workers compensation claim has been finalised, you have an obligation to disclose any additional jobs or sources of income and any unpaid or voluntary work that you undertake.
If you fail to disclose this information while you are the recipient of workers compensation benefits you may be penalised.
Do I need to disclose my pre-existing injury to my new employer?
You should only need to disclose your pre-existing injury to your new employer if the injury is likely to affect your ability to perform the duties that are expected of you. You should also disclose your injury if you require adjustments that will enable you to complete your job without aggravating your injury.
Is it possible to be fired if I am receiving WorkCover payments?
It is not legal for your employer to terminate your employment within 12 months of being injured at work, and they may be penalized up to $5,338 if they are found to have done so.
An employer may terminate an injured worker’s employment after they have received compensation for a continuous period of 12 months. A reduction of up to 25% of the worker’s previous pay may be applied to their weekly WorkCover payments if their employment is terminated.
If an injured worker is unable to return to their usual duties after two years of receiving WorkCover payment and their capacity to work has been impaired by more than 15% they can continue to receive 75% of their ordinary weekly pay from WorkCover. In circumstances where the worker’s injury has not impaired their capacity to work by more than 15%, they will receive WorkCover payments in the same amount as the current Centrelink Disability Support Pension.
Is it possible to be made redundant while I am on WorkCover?
Where there is a genuine need to make an employee redundant, it is legal for an employer to terminate your employment while you are receiving WorkCover payments, even if a period of less than 12 months has passed since you received your injury.
A minimum notice period or payment in lieu of a notice period must be given to employees who are made redundant, in addition to redundancy pay and any entitlements, such as accrued annual or long service leave.
It is not unusual for a worker to seek a new job while they are receiving WorkCover payments. If you need advice about resigning from your job and your obligations while receiving WorkCover payments, our work injury lawyers in Cairns can assist.