The Queensland State Government has introduced a Bill restoring common law access to all injured workers, and allowing those affected by the 2013 common law changes to seek additional compensation.
The Bill also prohibits prospective employers from accessing candidates' WorkCover histories.
The previous State Government amended the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 in late 2013 so that injured workers could only sue negligent employers if their whole person impairment exceeded five per cent, and to allow employers to view job candidates' injury files.
In introducing the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015, the State Employment and IR Minister Curtis Pitt, stated that while a whole person impairment of lower than five per cent might not seem significant, he knew of one worker whose knee injury – which resulted from employer negligence and was assessed as three per cent permanent impairment – left him with a disfigured leg and significant permanent pain, preventing him from standing for long periods or returning to his preinjury role.
Also, that giving employers access to candidates' claims histories unfairly affected a candidate's future career prospects and right to privacy.
The Amendment Bill:
- Restores common law rights to all injured workers by removing the five per cent threshold;
- Allows injured workers who were affected by the LNP Government's common law threshold (between October 2013 and January this year) to obtain additional compensation by extending the claims limitation period in certain circumstances;
- Provides automatic compensation to firefighters who contract any of 12 prescribed types of cancer, including volunteer firefighters who have attended a certain number of "exposure incidents"; and
- Omits s571D of the Act, which currently allows a prospective employer to apply to the Workers' Compensation Regulator for a copy of a prospective employee's claims history.