Injury at work with no sick leave (Vic)
If you suffer an injury at work and you have no sick leave to fall back on, there are some options that are open to you.
- Income protection
- Accessing superannuation
- Annual leave or long service leave
- Centrelink benefits
This article will explore these options further.
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If you don’t have sick leave then you could consider lodging a WorkCover claim.
Even if you do have sick leave accrued you should consider lodging a WorkCover claim.
Because that’s really what WorkCover is for.
If you suffer an injury that is related to employment, it’s designed to help get you back on your feet and to compensate you following an injury.
WorkCover is initiated by lodging a WorkCover claim form.
The claim is then assessed by the WorkCover insurer who will either accept or reject the claim.
This page shows you how to lodge a claim.
If the claim is accepted then you’re entitled to payment of medical and like expenses and if your ability to work is impacted, such that you can’t work at all or that you can only work a limited number of hours, then you are entitled to claim weekly payments.
Something worth mentioning in relation to sick leave and weekly payments is that where as sick leave will compensate you for 100% of your lost wages, weekly payments in most cases will not.
WorkCover will not pay you full wages.
Weekly payments are paid at the rate of 95% of your pre-injury average weekly earnings (this is an average of your earnings for 12 months before the injury or if you’ve worked with employer for less than 12 months, for that period).
After 13 weeks the 95% drops to 80% which continues until 130 weeks.
There after if you are in titled to weekly payments because you do not have a work capacity which is likely to continue indefinitely, then you’ll be continued to be paid at the 80% mark.
The calculation of your pre injury average weekly earnings is important and you can read more about that here.
In some cases you can get top up pay from your employer because you are covered by and instruments such as an EBA which allows for top up pay in the event of a WorkCover claim.
In addition to the entitlements of medical and like expenses and weekly payments, you’re also potentially entitled to claim unemployment benefit lump sum and a common-law claim for damages end of the WorkCover scheme.
You can read more about income protection here.
Some people have specific income protection policies they’ve taken out, or they have income protection insurance attached to a superannuation account.
To find out whether you have income protection you can contact your super fund and ask them.
Income protection will typically cover you for a set amount for a set period of time, for example, $2000 a month for two years.
To initiate an income protection claim you’ll need to complete the income protection claim form which you can obtain from the super fund.
You’ll also need medical material and support confirming that you’re not able to work.
Similar to an income protection claim, people can have a specific TPD policy or a policy attached to their superannuation account.
A TPD claim is a lump sum that is payable to someone if they are not able to work because of an injury or illness or incapacity in general.
Similar to an income protection claim, a TPD claim can be initiated by completing the TPD claim form.
Medical material will also be required, typically from two treating medical practitioners confirming that you’re not able to work.
The TPD amount of compensation is not dependant on the amount that you have in your superannuation fund by way of contributions.
So you could for example have almost nothing in your super account by way of contributions, however you could still potentially have a TPD claim for several hundred thousand dollars.
You may also be entitled to withdraw some of your superannuation money.
You will need to satisfy certain criteria however.
You should speak to your superannuation fund as well as the ATO.
Annual leave or long service leave
If you don’t have sick leave, you can possibly speak to your employer about taking annual leave or long service leave for a period of time.
However, if you were to ask for advice in relation to this typically we don’t recommend this.
Your annual leave and long service leave in our opinion should not be used while you need time off to recover from a work related injury.
Yes, if you really want to use your annual leave or long service leave for a short period of leave because of an injury, then in some instances this might be acceptable.
But in general it’s not something that we recommend.
Your annual leave and long service leave should be kept and used when you want to take time away from work for other reasons such as a holiday.
There are better options open to people if they have suffered an injury at work then taking their annual leave and long service leave. That’s not what they are intended for.
Another option is Centrelink benefits.
If you’re not able to work and it’s likely to be an ongoing disability, you could contact Centrelink and ask them whether they can do anything for you.
If you’re sick or injured and unable to do your usual work for a short period of time, you may potentially be able to obtain a job seeker payment.
Alternatively, you may also be able to claim a disability benefit.
In general, if you have suffered an injury at work and is one that is likely to persist, and you may need a few weeks or more off work and you may need more than say one or two trips to the GP for treatment, we recommend lodging a WorkCover claim.
Even if you think you have an injury that is insignificant and likely to improve, you need to keep in mind that and injury can get worse potentially over time. Having a WorkCover claim there if you need it ensures you are covered in the future.
However, a WorkCover claim is not right for everyone and it’s not right for every scenario.
We’ve written about that further and you can read about that here.
A word on using sick leave for an injury
You should only look to use your sick leave in limited circumstances.
If the injury is a very short term one, such as any injury that may resolve after a week or so, and you may only need a limited period of time off work (and this is supported by medical opinion) then it should be okay to use your sick leave.
However the advice that we usually give people is that it’s best if you keep your sick leave up your sleeve to be used for other purposes.
Say for example if you had an illness or injury that wasn’t work-related that you needed time off for.
This is particularly the case if you’ve only been with employer for a short period of time and don’t have a lot of sick leave saved up.
There are a limited number of times when it can make sense to rely on your sick leave.
For example, if you have been with an employer for a long period of time and have a lot of sick leave saved up.
Most people are probably aware that if they were to resign from their employment or be terminated, that in most cases their accrued sick leave entitlement won’t be paid to them.
If you’ve been injured at work and you don’t have sick leave to cover you for your time off, there are options open to you.
You can lodge a WorkCover claim, you can lodge an income protection claim or a TPD claim or access your superannuation in limited circumstances, you can use your annual leave or long service leave, or you can access benefits through Centrelink.
Which way you should go depends upon your individual circumstances (as unhelpful as that is). You should obtain advice from a lawyer tailored to your individual circumstances.