Injury management and suitable employment disputes

There are a range of options to help resolve disputes about suitable employment and medical treatment.

Disputes about suitable employment

Under NSW workers compensation legislation, employers have an obligation to provide their workers with suitable employment to support their recovery after a workplace injury or illness. This is provided the worker is able to return to work in some capacity, whether on a full time or part time basis, and it is reasonably practicable for the employer.

Suitable employment is the same as or equivalent to the worker's pre injury employment, so far as reasonably practicable.

Disputes about suitable employment may arise when:  

  • the employer does not offer suitable employment 
  • the employer withdraws an offer of suitable employment
  • the treating doctor is reluctant to support the offer of suitable employment
  • the injured workers capacity doesn't progress as anticipated.

In these cases, an injury management consultant or an approved workplace rehabilitation provider can help.

Injury management consultants are medical practitioners who assist insurers, employers, workers and treating doctors find solutions. They assess the nature of the problem and attempt to mediate a solution through discussions with the nominated treating doctor.

Workplace rehabilitation providers offer specialised workplace rehabilitation services to help injured workers return to work. The service is largely delivered at the workplace and is aimed at ensuring all aspects that have an impact on the worker returning to work are considered.

Where a dispute relates to an employers obligation to provide suitable employment, assistance can be sought from a WorkCover Inspector. WorkCover Inspectors have the authority to advise employers and issue notices or penalties for non compliance with legislative obligations.

Disputes about medical, hospital and rehabilitation treatment

The worker or insurer can request a second opinion from an independent medical consultant if there is a disagreement with the medical treatment being provided.

The insurer can also refer the injured worker to one of our approved independent consultants for a review about allied healthcare treatment, for example, physiotherapy, osteopathic, chiropractic, remedial massage therapy and psychological/counselling treatment.

The independent consultant will be a professional from within an appropriate allied healthcare background.

Workers Compensation Commission

If you are not satisfied you can choose to lodge an application to dispute the decision with the Workers Compensation Commission. The Commission resolves disputes between injured workers and employers about workers compensation claims, for example, weekly compensation for loss of income, payment of medical expenses and compensation for permanent impairment/pain and suffering.

The Commission encourages workers, employers and insurers to discuss ways of resolving the dispute at all stages of the process.

For more detailed information you can call the Workers Compensation Commission on 1300 368 040

Workers Compensation Independent Review Office

If an injured worker is dissatisfied at any stage with the management of their injury, they can contact the Workers Compensation Independent Review Office (WIRO) or on 13 94 76. 

The Workers Compensation Independent Review Office fact sheet contains general information about workers compensation entitlements and procedures. This factsheet is not a detailed explanation of the law as it applies to claims made by individual workers.

Independent Legal Assistance and Review Service

The Independent Legal Assistance and Review Service (ILARS) provides funding to pay for costs incurred by some injured workers when disputing decisions made by the insurer.  Contact ILARS on 13 94 76 or email them at ilars@wiro.nsw.gov.au.