In October 2013, the Newman government made further amendments to the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) (Act) designed to reduce workers’ compensation costs for all employers in Queensland.
The latest amendments follow on from a change in the definition of who is a “worker” for compensation purposes under the Act, which commenced on 1 July 2013 and clarified the status of sole trader contractors by aligning the definition of “worker” with that of an “employee” for the purposes of withholding PAYG tax under the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth).
The key amendments
The key amendments to the Act include:
- preventing workers whose injury is assessed with a degree of permanent impairment of 5% or less from making a claim for common law damages
- a more rigorous test for workers seeking compensation for psychiatric and psychological injuries
- raising the wages threshold above which an employer must engage a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator and maintain a workplace rehabilitation policy
- the ability for employers to request details of a prospective worker’s medical and compensation claims history during the recruitment process.
Relevance to agribusiness
The ability to obtain details of a prospective worker’s pre-existing medical conditions and claims history will potentially be of particular advantage to employers in the agribusiness sector, where many jobs require the performance of strenuous, physical work. The ability to assess a prospective worker’s fitness for such work may assist employers to lower the rate of injury once employment commences.
However, all employers must be careful with how they use the medical information collected during the recruitment process, to ensure they do not engage in conduct that breaches state and federal anti-discrimination laws.
If you have any queries about how the amendments to the Act will affect your business, please contact us.
Ron Eames, Partner
T: +61 7 3135 0629
Paul Venus, Partner
T: +61 7 3135 0613
This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed above.