Can WorkCover certificates be backdated?
WorkCover certificates can in some instances be backdated. However, the legislation limits backdating of a WorkCover certificate to no more than 90 days.
This page will explore the issue of backdating WorkCover certificates further.
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What is a backdated certificate?
For the sake of clarity, a backdated certificate is where the commencement date of incapacity is prior to the date of examination.
So let’s say that you were examined by your doctor on 25 August 2022 and provided with a certificate of capacity.
A backdated certificate would be a certificate that comments on your capacity for work prior to 25 August 2022.
No more than 90 days
A certificate of capacity can be backdated, but cannot be backdated for a period of more than 90 days.
So using the example above if you attended your doctor on 25 August 2022, your certificate would only be able to cover no more than 90 days prior to this date.
Also, individual backdated certificates must be for no longer than 28 days.
So if the total backdated certificate period is 6 weeks, you will need two certificates for that period.
A WorkCover insurer won’t automatically accept a backdated certificate
Even though certificates of capacity can be backdated for a period of no more than 90 days, this does not automatically mean that the WorkCover insurer will accept the certificate of capacity.
If the certificate pre dates the examination date by more than a few days, the insurer will likely want to know why why the certificate has been backdated.
If the reason is, for example, that the next certificate was due on a weekend or public holiday and that you were not able to see your doctor in time and get a new certificate, this is usually fine and the insurer should have no issues with this.
But if the doctor has backdated certificates for four weeks and there is no reason for this other than you just didn’t bother to get certificates, the insurer may reject this certificate and therefore not pay you weekly payments for this period.
To help with processing of a backdated certificate of capacity, you should request that the reason/s for the backdated certificate be stated on the certificate.
Sometimes if you submit a backdated certificate to the WorkCover insurer, they will request further information as to why the certificate was backdated.
This can sometimes cause a delay in weekly payments being made to you.
What to do if the insurer refuses to accept a backdated certificate of capacity
In order to avoid delay as much as possible, you should try and rectify any issues the insurer might have with the certificate.
If you have tried to do so but without success, then you can ask the insurer to perform an internal review.
Alternatively (or in addition to), you can lodge a request for conciliation.
Lodging a request for conciliation is what we’d recommend most people do in these instances.
What to do if your doctor will not provide you with a backdated certificate
It’s not uncommon for doctors to refuse to provide a backdated certificate.
This is understandable as doctors provide medical treatment and generally they’re not experts when it comes to the Victorian WorkCover system.
A good starting point may be to show them this page,
If the doctor will not provide you with a backdated certificate then it is possible in some instances to rely on a statutory declaration instead.
Statutory declarations are explained further in the section below.
Obtaining backdated certificates when your claim was initially rejected
It’s not an uncommon scenario that a WorkCover claim gets rejected and the injured worker has an incapacity for employment relating to their work related injury.
If a WorkCover claim is rejected, a person has the option of contesting the insurers decision to reject the claim.
The matter may progress to conciliation where it may not resolve and it may progress beyond that.
If after being rejected your claim is later accepted with the insurer withdrawing their notice, or alternatively if agreement is reached between the parties to resolve the weekly payments aspect of your claim for a limited period (e.g. 12 months of payments) then in order for the WorkCover insurer to make payments to you, you will require certificates of capacity that cover the relevant periods that you are trying to claim weekly payments for.
For this reason, it is important that you continue to obtain certificates of capacity if your WorkCover claim has been rejected if you have an incapacity for work.
If you have been obtaining WorkCover certificates during the period that your WorkCover claim was rejected for, then you can simply provide these to the WorkCover insurer who should backpay you what you were entitled to.
However, if you didn’t obtain certificates of capacity, or you didn’t obtain all the certificates you should have, you have a couple of options.
You could speak to your doctor and ask them if they are happy to provide backdated certificates of capacity (taking into account the maximum backdating period of 90 days).
However many doctors will not want to do this for you.
Instead, what you need to do is complete a statutory declaration that states when you did not work.
So for example, if you didn’t work for six months because of your injury, your statutory declaration would confirm this.
In these instances WorkCover insurers will usually accept statutory declarations.
If this is applicable to you and you are unable to obtain backdated certificates and require a statutory declaration, we would recommend that you get some help from a WorkCover lawyer.
WorkCover certificates of capacity can be backdated for a period of no more than 90 days in Victoria.
However, just because a certificate has been backdated does not automatically mean that the WorkCover insurer will accept it.
The WorkCover insurer may request that you provide reasons as to why the backdated certificate was required.
If the insurer does not accept a backdated certificate, you can ask them to perform an internal review and you can lodge a request for conciliation.
In some instances, if backdated certificates can’t be obtained you may need to rely on a statutory declaration.