Finding a job after workers compensation
Many people wonder what impact a workers compensation or WorkCover claim will have on their ability to find a new job.
Will employers be hesitant to hire them if they find out they’ve had an injury or pursued a WorkCover claim?
This article will explore the issue and answer the most commonly asked questions relating to finding a job after a workers compensation claim.
In a nutshell, disclosure of a previous injury and or WorkCover claim depends on the job, the industry and the injury in question.
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Do I have to disclose a previous injury to a prospective employer?
If you are applying for a new job, in some cases a prospective employer might request that you disclose any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions that could be relevant to the job that you are applying for.
If you are asked by a prospective employer whether you have an injury or condition which might affect your ability to do the job safely (whether or not you lodged a WorkCover claim in relation to it or not), then in our opinion you should disclose it.
If the prospective employer refers you to a pre-employment medical assessment, the doctor will probably ask you about any existing or previous injuries that you may have. You should disclose these injuries if your asked by a doctor. But keep in mind that this does not necessarily extend to revealing that you’ve had a workers compensation claim.
The key issue is the safety of yourself and other workers. If your injury is such that it may impact yourself or others in the workplace, then yes you should disclose that injury to your prospective employer. It is important.
However, you do not need to let them know that you’ve previously pursued a WorkCover claim in relation to a particular injury. In our opinion, a prospective employer doesn’t need to ask this. Yes, they have a legitimate interest in finding out whether you have an injury or condition which might affect your ability to do the job safely and which may impact upon other employees.
But that is a very different question to whether you’ve had a workers compensation claim.
What impact will failing to disclose a previous injury have?
If you are asked whether you’ve had a previous injury or condition and you deny that you have had a relevant previous injury or condition, if you aggravate that injury or condition at work in your new job potentially that can impact your ability to claim WorkCover entitlements. This is important so be mindful of this.
For example, let’s say that you have previously had a shoulder injury and that you are specifically asked on a pre-employment form provided by an employer whether you’ve had any previous injuries and you say no.
You are then offered the job and during the course of your new employment, you suffer injury to the same shoulder that was previously injured.
In this instance, the fact that you did not disclose that you had a previous injury can potentially impact your ability to claim workers compensation benefits via WorkCover for the aggravation of the shoulder injury.
Do I have to disclose a previous WorkCover claim if I am asked?
As mentioned above the prospective employer, in our opinion should not really be asking about previous WorkCover claims because it is not the WorkCover claim that is relevant, rather it is the injury itself.
Employers have a legitimate interest in finding out whether you have an injury or condition which might impact your ability to do the job, as well as your safety and the safety of others.
But that is a different question as to whether you’ve ever pursued a workers compensation claim before.
If you’re asked whether you’ve had a previous WorkCover claim then in our opinion you should answer honestly because you should not be dishonest in job applications.
If you do disclose a previous WorkCover claim you should be open with your prospective employer about it and provide further information about it where possible.
If I disclose a previous injury or WorkCover claim am I likely to be treated differently?
It is unlawful for a prospective employer to refuse to offer a job to someone because that person has suffered an injury at work, unless that injury results in the employee being unable to undertake the inherent requirements of the position they are applying for.
So, let’s say that you are applying for a job and you disclose that you’ve had a previous finger injury for which you lodged a WorkCover claim for however the injury has resolved.
It would be unlawful for the prospective employer to use the previous injury and WorkCover claim as a reason to not offer you a job.
The issue with this however is proving it.
So if a prospective employer does use a previous injury or WorkCover claim as the reason to not offer you a position, proving this will be very difficult unless they have specifically mentioned it to you.
Am I obliged to tell a prospective employer about a previous injury or WorkCover claim if I’m not asked?
No, you are not under an obligation to tell a prospective employer about a previous injury or a WorkCover matter if you’re not asked.
However, as mentioned above, if you are specifically asked and if the injury is such that it could impact on health work and safety, then you should disclose it.
Failure to disclose could potentially result in disciplinary proceedings and ultimately in some cases you may be terminated from your employment.
What impact will a new job have on my WorkCover entitlements?
The fact that you are no longer employed with the employer in which you suffered injury does not mean your WorkCover claim is finished.
Your WorkCover claim can continue just as if you were still employed by the employer you suffered injury with.
The prospective employer can ask you during an interview as to whether you’ve had any pre-existing injuries.
Whether you answer that you have and advise them of your pre-existing injuries in our opinion should depend upon whether those injuries are relevant.
Whether they are relevant depends upon whether the injury in question could potentially impact on the health and safety of yourself and others in the workplace.
If it could, then we believe you should disclose the injury. If it doesn’t, then we believe you do not need to disclose the injury.
We do not believe that prospective employers should ask you whether you’ve had a previous WorkCover claim but if you are asked, and you wish to reveal that you have had a previous WorkCover claim, then we would suggest that you explain what the WorkCover claim involved.