What are my rights if I am unable to work due to an injury?

If you have recently suffered a workplace injury that has left you unable to work, whether for the short or long term, you may be wondering about how to navigate your future. The good news is that there are mechanisms to help support you while you are out of work depending on the type of injury, the severity of the injury and your personal circumstances.

What is a workplace injury?

A workplace injury is a physical or psychological injury incurred while the worker is undertaking their usual duties. The injury does not necessarily have to have been sustained at the worker’s usual place of work (for example, workplace injuries can happen while working from home or while travelling for work) but it is unlikely that the worker will receive compensation if they were responsible for the injury by undertaking their duties in a negligent manner.

Common workplace injuries include:

  • trips and falls;
  • accidents involving motor vehicles and machinery;
  • burns and electrocution;
  • stress, depression and anxiety;
  • head injuries from falling objects; and
  • repetitive stress injuries (RSI) and back and neck pain from poor workspace set-ups.

All of these injuries can cause a worker to be unfit for work for weeks, months or even permanently.

What if my employer terminates my employment after I am injured?

It is illegal for your employer to terminate your employment directly after you are injured. In the first three months after your injury, you are protected from termination.

It is possible to be made redundant while you are off work due to injury, so long as the redundancy is genuine and the minimum notice period or payment in lieu of a notice period is offered in addition to redundancy pay and other applicable entitlements.

What benefits am I entitled to if I’m unable to work?

The benefits you will have access to if you are injured and unable to work will depend how your injury was sustained, its severity and other factors pertaining to your personal circumstances. Generally speaking, individuals who suffer from workplace injuries are entitled to insurance.

What types of insurances cover workplace injuries?

Workers Compensation is the most common insurance claimed when a workplace injury occurs. However, there are three other insurances which may be claimed depending on your personal cover and the severity of the injury. These are:

  • total and permanent disability (TPD);
  • income protection; and
  • life insurance.

TPD insurance may be paid as a lump sum if your injury is so severe that you are unable to work ever again, whereas income protection insurance may be paid if your injury has caused you to be unable to work in your usual capacity, therefore, preventing you from receiving an income. If you are eligible, income protection insurance will be paid to you for an agreed period of time, which can include up to the age of retirement.

If a workplace injury results in death or terminal illness life insurance will be paid to the beneficiaries of your estate. This is usually your spouse but may include your children or other nominated beneficiaries.

What rights do I have as a self-employed person who has been injured while working?

Self-employed people should seek to make a claim on any insurance attached to their superannuation, such as income protection insurance. If the injury occurred during the course of the self-employed person’s work on premises other than their own workplace, they may also seek to claim against the relevant public liability insurance covering the place the accident happened.

Do I need a lawyer to be able to make an insurance claim?

Making a claim for insurance can be a complex and time-consuming process. With the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer, your claim can be managed from end-to-end so that you have the best chance of success and a knowledgeable guide to keep you informed so you can make the best decisions if a settlement is offered.

Scroll to Top