Can I change jobs when on Workcover in Queensland?
If you’ve been injured at work in Queensland and you are in receipt of WorkCover benefits, you can change jobs, but it may have an effect on your worker's compensation claim. There are a lot of factual scenarios to consider if you’re thinking of changing jobs while you’re in receipt of workers’ compensation benefits. You’ll need to consider any effects on your statutory entitlements like weekly payments and also any impact on an entitlement to common law damages where your injury was caused by negligence.
If you are planning on resigning from your job without another job to go to, you may also find our earlier blog useful, “Can I quit my job while on workers compensation?”
Some of the relevant issues to be considered before switching careers or changing employers are listed below.
Medical certificate and your capacity for work
If you’re in receipt of WorkCover benefits in Queensland, you’ll be required to provide ongoing workers’ compensation medical certificates. Your medical certificate may have restrictions listed in terms of hours you can work, tasks you can and cannot do or general capacity.
It is very important that you abide by the restrictions listed on your medical certificate. You need to ensure that you are medically fit to perform any new duties expected of you at the new workplace.
Disclosure of pre-existing injury to your new employer
If the injury will affect your ability to perform the duties expected, you will generally be required to disclose the injury to the new employer.
For example, if you require some modifications at the workplace to enable you to perform your duties, given your injury, you will need to disclose the injury to your new employer. Failure to disclose this information can have a detrimental effect on any common law claim and/or any further WorkCover statutory entitlements; for example, if you were to aggravate your injuries at the new employer.
WorkCover weekly benefits and medical expenses
A change in job does not affect your entitlement to seek medical and rehabilitation expenses.
However, your weekly payments may be terminated.
There are various factors to be considered here, such as:
- your capacity for work;
- new weekly wages (did you get a pay rise or a drop in pay?);
- whether you are changing jobs following a dismissal; and
- if you are seeking a new role with duties more suitable to the restrictions imposed by an injury.
A complete understanding of the details and facts related to your individual circumstances is required to understand your entitlements. You should seek immediate legal advice from your union or a worker’s compensation lawyer to protect your rights and entitlements.
If there was an unfair dismissal involved, you should consult an employment lawyer immediately, as there are strict time limits for issuing unfair dismissal proceedings.
Obligation to inform WorkCover that you are changing jobs
You have an obligation to inform WorkCover Queensland if you are changing jobs.
These obligations will continue to apply for the duration of your workers’ compensation claim or until any common law claim you may have, is resolved and finalised.
Whilst in receipt of workers’ compensation benefits, it is important that you disclose:
- any alternate income sources;
- any voluntary or unpaid work;
- any second jobs; or
- if you commence a new role with a new employer.
Failure to comply with your disclosure obligations whilst in receipt of workers’ compensation benefits can result in serious penalties to you.
What if I have a common law claim and I get injured again at a new workplace?
To be successful in a common law claim, you must prove liability; that is, that your employer or some other party who owed you a duty of care was negligent for the incident that caused your injuries.
For a successful common law claim, it is important to establish causation; that being, a link between the negligence of someone who owed a duty of care, to the injury and resultant loss and damage.
Obviously, a change in employment and a subsequent incident leading to further injury while your common law claim is active, may complicate the causal chain of your claim. Your existing common law claim will be affected if you sustain a new injury or aggravate the existing injury.
A new incident leading to new or aggravated significant injury may also delay the resolution of your common law claim. In serious cases, a new intervening incident may break the chain of causation from the initial incident. This can have a detrimental impact on the damages that flow from the original incident.
When considering causation, and the impact of any subsequent incidents/injuries, advice should be sought from an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Get help from a worker’s compensation lawyer
It’s understandable that an injured worker may feel like moving onto a new employer. The work relationship might be strained or there may be a genuine fear of re-injury or a desire to move on to a less demanding role better suited to the changed circumstances. However, this is not a minor decision as it can impact your benefits and entitlements.
If you are currently in receipt of workers’ compensation benefits and are considering changing jobs, we recommend you seek legal advice from a lawyer experienced in Queensland workers’ compensation and personal injury claims.
Contacting Hall Payne Lawyers
You can contact us by phone or email to arrange your consultation; either face-to-face at one of our offices, by telephone or by videoconference consultation.
This article relates to Australian law; either at a State or Federal level.
The information contained on this site is for general guidance only. No person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information. Appropriate professional advice should be sought based upon your particular circumstances. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact Hall Payne Lawyers.