Proposed changes to Queensland workers’ compensation certificates
For any member who has been injured at work, they will know how bureaucratic the process of lodging a claim for workers’ compensation can prove to be. As IEUA-QNT Industrial Officer Danielle Wilson writes, new medical certification is being drafted to help streamline the process for lodging claims and preparing return to work plans.
When it comes to trying to get back to work after an injury, there are times when our members experience difficulties. Medical certification play a part in this if doctors are not clear in their advice to insurers and employers.
The current workers’ compensation certification focuses on wellness and treatment, with limited practical guidance to assist an injured worker when talking to their employer about resuming duty.
While wellness and treatment inform the claims process, it has been recognised by insurers that this information does little in assisting injured workers to access the adjustments needed to support a reasonable return to work program with their employer.
Where an employer obstructs reasonable and meaningful discussions about return to work, this can discourage the development of an appropriate plan.
Such obstructions may include preferences that employees resume duty in full or employers may simply not be willing to provide medical adjustments suggested by doctors.
Employers can also frustrate the process further if they express a preference that employees remain absent or that they do not have enough information to execute a suitable duties plan.
In an attempt to address this situation, the Queensland Government Office of Industrial Relations is implementing new certification for injured workers lodging claims for workers’ compensation. The IEUA-QNT has been involved in stakeholder consultation which is now in its final stage.
The Office of Industrial Relations advises the proposed Queensland Workers’ Compensation Certificate of Capacity differs significantly from the existing Workers Compensation Medical Certificate.
It aims to focus on three elements of recovery:
- what workers can do rather than what they can’t do;
- supporting early and safe rehabilitation and return to work outcomes for the scheme; and
- encouraging discussions about return to work as early as possible.
It is readily accepted in medical and rehabilitation circles that wherever possible, injured workers should resume some form of duty as early as they can. The research relied on by insurers and medical professionals shows early return to work (when medically appropriate) produces significant improvement in health and wellbeing, and shortens the recovery time.
Workers’ Compensation Insurers spend significant time and money educating employers and medical professionals to ensure they understand their role and obligations in return to work planning.
The comprehensiveness of this new certification will assist both employers and medical professionals to support injured workers returning to work.
It may be all in the language, but we believe the move to a “capacity certificate” is helpful and will encourage employers to comply with the return to work and rehabilitation obligations.
While this certification proposal is still at the consultation stage, our union is cautiously optimistic that the new certificate will help break down the barriers that are often put up to stop injured workers returning to work.
If you are experiencing difficulties returning to work after being injured, please contact our Industrial Services team for assistance via FREECALL 1800 177 937.