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Employers are expected to benefit from the recent Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 past in Queensland Parliament recently.

The Bill makes a number of changes to the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) including:

·         requiring a prospective worker to disclose a pre-existing injury or medical condition, if requested to do so;

·         allowing employers access to a prospective worker's claims history in particular circumstances; and

·         increasing the threshold for compensable psychiatric or psychological injuries.

Disclosing prior injuries and medical conditions

When requested in writing, a prospective employee will be required to disclose pre-existing injuries of which they are aware of or that could reasonably be aggravated by performing their employment related duties, to their prospective employer.

The prospective employer must provide details about the nature of duties the position will entail for this purpose (covered off in a scope of duties or position description).  Prospective employers will also be required to advise a prospective employee that, if they do not comply with the request or supply false or misleading information, they will not be entitled to compensation or damages under the Act for any event that aggravates the non-disclosed pre-existing injury.

The changes will provide employers with more clarity and awareness when engaging potential employees.

If a prospective employee is engaged prior to the disclosure (or before being requested to make the disclosure), their rights will unaffected by these changes.

Access to claims history

Once the prospective employer has obtained the prospective employees consent they can then request a claims history summary from the proposed new regulator (for an administrative fee). It is worth noting although prospective employers can request consent there is no requirement under the Act for prospective employees to provide such consent.

If the claims history is attained the prospective employer must ensure the workers compensation history information is kept confidential at all times.

Psychiatric and psychological injury

In order to be eligible for workers' compensation, an employee will now need to show that an injury resulting in a psychiatric or psychological disorder (or an aggravation of an existing disorder) arose out of, or in the course of, employment and that the employment is the major significant contributing factor to the injury or aggravation.

This amendment makes it more difficult for employees to access compensation for a psychiatric or psychological disorder that don't relate to validated work related incidents..

Tread carefully

While these changes will provide prospective employers with more information about a prospective employee, it is important that employers:

·     comply with the specific provisions of the Act to obtain this information lawfully;

·     clearly and accurately articulate the nature of the duties the subject of employment so as to make any disclosure meaningful;       and

·     be careful not to fall foul of the discrimination legislation when making decisions based on this information.

Any unlawful conduct in this area is likely to have serious consequences so it's important you tread carefully.

Availio has been supporting SME business owners to successfully manage their HR and compliance requirements for over 10 years. If you would like further information on this topic or any other HR related issue, call Kelly Langdon on 3218 3900.