Workers' compensation: know your rights
The CWU has recently been handling a number of cases where members’ workers’ compensation claims have been delayed as a result of their participation in Telstra’s internal “Injury Assist” programme.
Injury Assist was introduced in 2014 as an internal “injury management” and return-to-work programme and promoted as an additional service provided free of charge to Telstra employees.
Under the scheme Telstra pays for the first four doctor and first four physio visits and for up to $250 worth of incidental treatment costs.
Participation is supposed to be voluntary, but CWU members report that they are being actively encouraged to use Industry Assist rather than applying for workers’ compensation when they have suffered an illness or injury.
Members need to understand the possible disadvantages of going down this path and to understand their rights in this area.
- The stated aim of Injury Assist is to get you back to work as soon as possible after your injury/illness. While this might sound like a win-win for both Telstra and the employee concerned, it might not be. There is always a danger in such programmes of employees being encouraged to return to work before they are in fact fit to do so.
- An unstated aim of such company programmes is to minimise the company’s workers’ compensation costs by reducing the number of claims made. And even if you do make a claim, participation in Injury Assist may delay the process – either because Telstra delays processing it until you have gone through Injury Assist or because the employee doesn’t put in a claim until they have come to the end of the Injury Assist process.
Be clear. If you have a work related illness or injury:
- You do not have to participate in Injury Assist or any similar internal company programme.
- You have the right to consult your own doctor about your fitness to return to work
- You have the right to apply for workers’ compensation at any time after the relevant event that caused your illness or injury.