Queensland Workers’ Compensation Reforms

In 2013, by way of the Workers’ Compensation Rehabilitation & Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 (Qld), the Newman Government introduced significant changes to the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) (‘the Act‘).

The 2013 changes included:

  • allowing employers to apply to the Workers’ Compensation Regulator to obtain prospective workers’ compensation claim histories, with the worker’s consent; and
  • workers were only eligible to make a common law damages claim if their degree of permanent impairment was assessed at 5% or more.

The change to allow prospective employers access to workers’ compensation histories was met with criticism within the industry. Primarily, it was thought that this fettered the prospective employees’ rights to privacy, as well as potentially limiting their career prospects (despite other protections in the Fair Work and anti-discrimination legislation).

The Queensland Government recently passed the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2015 (Qld) which reverses some of the 2013 amendments.

In the Explanatory Speech, the Queensland Government heeded the concern regarding privacy and ‘in the interests of fairness for all parties’ has removed the ability for employers to access such information. This change took effect from 24 September 2015.

The introduction of the 5% degree of permanent impairment threshold was also repealed by the recent changes. This means all workers are eligible to pursue a common law damages claim. This change has retrospective effect from 31 January 2015.

Finally, workers who were unable to access common law damages due to the 2013 amendments can access additional lump sum compensation payments.

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