ON 15 October 2013, the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 and Explanatory Notes were introduced into the Queensland Parliament.
The amendment Bill will:
• Merge the Workers’ Compensation Regulatory Authority (Q-COMP) into OFSWQ;
• Establish a Workers’ Compensation Regulator (the Regulator) to perform the statutory functions previously undertaken by Q-COMP;
• Introduce a greater than 5% degree of permanent impairment threshold to access common law damages (statutory entitlements will still apply);
• Ensure employment is “the major significant factor” causing compensable psychiatric or psychological injuries (rather than just “a significant contributing factor”);
• Require a worker to notify an employer of previous injuries, if requested;
• Allow employers to access a prospective worker’s claims history;
• Require WorkCover Queensland to refer all allegations of fraud-related offences to the Regulator for investigation and, if necessary, prosecution;
• Increase maximum penalties for persons who defraud or attempt to defraud insurers, from 18 months to five years imprisonment; and
• Close a loophole which allowed injured workers to claim prohibited damages.
Journeys to and from work will remain covered under the workers’ compensation scheme.
The amendments continue to be debated in state parliament and are expected to be passed.