WorkCover WA recently issued an update on an injured worker's rights when an employer directs them to attend an employer nominated medical practitioner at the outset of a claim. It also noted there had been instances of employers insisting on attending a medical consultation with the worker's treating medical practitioner. Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said he was pleased WorkCover WA had moved to clear up any confusion. Read the ABC News article WorkCover warns employers not to attend medical appointments for injured workers.
What then are the "rules" about medical consultations?
- Injured workers may choose their own treating medical practitioner for the purpose of a workers' compensation claim.
- Employers may recommend a medical practitioner to a worker and may also direct a worker to see a specific medical practitioner under Sections 64 and 65 Workers' Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981.
- An employer or insurer should not require or coerce an injured worker to attend a medical practitioner nominated by them for the purpose of treatment of a workplace injury and the worker obtaining certification for compensation.
- There is no legal or operational basis for employers or their representatives to be present during a medical consultation between an injured worker and a treating doctor, even when treatment is recommended or facilitated by the employer.
- Employers have a legitimate interest in injured workers' capacity for work and return to work options, which may involve interaction with medical practitioners, but this does not extend to being present at the medical consultation between the worker and the treating medical practitioner.
- Employers can engage with the worker's treating medical practitioner without compromising a worker's privacy, including contact with the medical practitioner after the consultation or through case conferences.
- Case conferences, and less formal telephone conversations, are the appropriate forum for employers to engage in discussion on return to work issues with the injured worker's treating medical practitioner.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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