Workplace Law offers specialist services in the area of Workers Compensation to employers, self insurers and specialised insurers in response to claims by injured employees.
We are pleased to say that Workplace Law also has a proven track–record in delivering practical, accurate, timely and holistic legal advice and representation for a number of Scheme Agents, self insurers and specialised insurers in NSW.
The broad range of services we offer in the area of workers compensation includes:
- File reviews and advice on liability issues under the relevant State workers compensation legislation;
- Assistance with the preparation of Dispute Notices
- Conduct of matters in the Workers Compensation Commission (NSW) and other Courts and Tribunals.
- Management of long term claims
- Helping self-insurers and employers reduce their workers compensation claims costs.
- Preparing submissions and responses to WorkCover QLD and to Q-Comp
- Advising whether or not specialist medical review should be undertaken
- Advice as to the management of injured employees
- Assessing potential impact on workers’ compensation insurance premium costs
- Identifying recoveries against third parties
- Identification of gaps in WHS / Risk Management practices
- Advising whether changes to the system of work are required to enhance safety
- Representation in Common Law/Negligence claims
At Workplace Law, we subscribe to the philosophy of prevention being better than cure. Workplace Law provides employers with prevention strategies including:
- WHS assessments;
- Compliance audits and
- Workers’ compensation claims and incident management.
The compliance audit process is carried out by an expert Consultant and identifies deficiencies and areas for improvement in the areas of WHS, workers’ compensation and the working environment. A process of ongoing review of your workers’ compensation claims portfolio assists our clients in managing the costs of each claim and therefore the impact on insurance premiums. Workplace Law assists in this process through regular contact and work with our clients’ insurers.
Together, these strategies operate to provide our clients with a framework aimed at reducing and preventing accidents and injuries in the workplace.
Response to Accidents and Injuries
Unfortunately, even the best prepared employers may still suffer accidents or injuries in their workplace. In this event, Workplace Law assists our clients to manage and mitigate the impact of any investigation by WorkCover and any litigation by injured employees.
The process of managing workplace accidents or injuries should always start with a formal investigation of the circumstances surrounding the event.
Workplace Law is able to conduct ourselves and/or arrange an investigation by an expert Consultant, to provide a complete report of the facts and circumstances of the incident. Factual reports are critical to managing any litigation arising from the incident (including any WorkCover prosecution) and can often be a learning and development guide in preventing further incidents.
Scheme Agents and iCare – how we support employers
From experience with the recent changes to claims and litigation management we have come to the conclusion that there are better ways we can provide legal assistance, guidance and representation to NSW employers when it comes to protecting their interests, managing their workers compensation issues and in their dealings with icare and scheme agents.
- Employers are increasing being ignored or left out when it comes to involvement in workers compensation claims and disputes.
- There are restrictions in place in terms of the release of claims information to employers.
- For example, an injured worker will be given copies of all documents and reasons as to why a claim was declined but the employer will not be given that same information.The refusal to treat employers equally by providing them with the same information results in employers having to manage an employee’s employment without a full and complete understanding of the medical opinions and factual evidence.
- We believe employers should be kept informed and to have the same access to claims information that injured workers do.
- A poorly managed claim can result in huge financial cost for an employer.
- Facilitating return to work plans must take into account the impact on an employer’s entire workforce.
- Injured workers often present complex WHS, industrial, discrimination and employment related issues. Injury and return to work must be managed with genuine consideration of those issues.
- We have one client – the employer. Unlike law firms who act for icare and the scheme agents we are not conflicted or prevented from advising employers directly.
- When it comes to claims where liability is questionable we help employers by:
- Advising what information (witness statements, meeting notes etc) should be sent to the scheme agent.
- In disputed claims assisting the employers with submissions to the scheme agent as to why liability should not be accepted or at least why a claim should be investigated.
- Provide legal advice to employers on whether icare and the scheme agent have properly discharged their professional obligations in accordance with the law when managing the claim.
- Provide strategic legal advice to employers on how to manage employment issues with injured workers who also have an active workers compensation claim.
- Day to day assistance to make sure icare and scheme agents are handling matters properly and not jeopardising employer’s employment interests eg. pressuring an employer to take an employee back to work – consider the WHS and employment issues that arise.
- We can appear in and commence injury management disputes on behalf of the employer. This will become more important if icare and the scheme agents take a more aggressive stance when in terms of forcing employers to return injured workers to the workplace. Whilst a swift return to work is the primary goal sometimes that is not reasonably practicable for a number of reasons.
- Some claims resolutions can adversely impact both an employer’s premium and its workforce morale/culture. We can review & advise on appropriateness of proposed settlement strategy on litigated claims. We can also help employers manage the communication to their workforce about the resolution of claims.
We believe it is important employers take an active interest in how icare and the scheme agents are managing their claims and premiums.