On 17 September 2015 Queensland State Parliament passed
an Act which sees the abolition of common law
thresholds—changes made retrospectively and applying to all
injuries which occurred after 31 January 2015.
The Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other
Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 passed Parliament on 17
September 2015, the effect of this legislation being:
There is no applicable threshold now applying, and common law
rights are restored to all injured workers retrospectively from 31
This change means that there is now a limited threshold regime-
there is no threshold applicable for all injuries sustained before
15 October 2013, that is, before the introduction of the previous
From 15 October 2013 to 31 January 2015 a common law threshold
of greater than 5% permanent impairment is applicable for all
injuries that occurred in that 15 month period.
As well as removing the threshold, the legislation allows
workers who are injured between 15 October 2013 and 31 January 2015
and who did not otherwise overcome the 5% threshold to be awarded
additional lump sum compensation pursuant to relevant Regulations.
This short term arrangement only applies for injuries which
occurred between 15 October 2013 and 31 January 2015.
Although injured workers who did not overcome the threshold are
not entitled to a full restoration of common law rights, this lump
sum arrangement is intended to provide some additional compensation
to workers who were otherwise disadvantaged by the threshold
The relevant lump sump entitlement is approximately twice as
much as the lump sum already for injuries in the statutory claims
It is intended that a streamlined process will be put in place
for the assessment of this additional lump sum entitlement. An
insurer is required to determine whether a worker who otherwise did
not overcome the threshold is eligible to the additional lump sum.
If it is considered by the insurer that the worker is not eligible,
the worker is then issued with reasons for the insurer's
decision and will be able to have the decision administratively
reviewed by an independent panel of legal experts.
As previously flagged there are also amendments to sections
providing presumptive compensation to firefighters who contract one
of twelve types of cancer, that is, it is presumed that the cancers
are effectively employment-related.
An employer can no longer request the WorkCover claims history
of a prospective employee from the Regulator in the pre-employment
process. Nonetheless, employers can still ask detailed questions of
a worker relevant to job capacity and otherwise direct prospective
employees to undertake a pre-employment medical examination aimed
at assessing work capacity.
It will be interesting to see whether there will now be a
significant (and some say, predicted) increase in common law claims
following this legislative change.
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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An employee that refused a reasonable offer of settlement was ordered by the FWC to pay his ex-employer's legal costs.
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