What Happens if I Resign While on WorkCover?

Queensland’s workers compensation system works like this:

  • ‍Your employer generally takes out the insurance which covers claims.
  • ‍Once you have shown that you sustained an injury at work, WorkCover pays the compensation.  This means that generally (unless you are earning income elsewhere) you remain entitled to those payments even if you are no longer with the workplace where the injury occurred.

Of course, there can be situations where the possibility of returning to the workplace where you were injured is extremely stressful, or your injuries may result in a total and permanent dissability.

Your income is your livelihood, and you don’t want to risk losing it either partially or altogether, especially while you are still trying to recover.

Here, we explain some of the key considerations required if you are thinking about resigning.

Risking your right to payment

Be careful that resigning does not take away your right to further payment.  Compensation requires proof of lost wages, so if you quit and your boss says you could have kept earning an income with them, this might negatively affect your rights to a compensation income.

You and your employer have an obligation of 'mutuality'.  That is, to show that you are committed to your employment relationship.

Your employer has an obligation to provide you with lighter duties that are suitable while you recover from your injury.
Examples: So, take the example where your employer says, after you resigned, that you could have returned to suitable duties that they had in mind for you. In that case, it will be more difficult to prove lost wages.
Another example is if you are receiving compensation for lost wages and your reason for resignation does not relate to your injury or incapacity, you might also risk losing your right to payments.

You may still be able to claim other entitlements such as medical expenses or lump sum payments.

Give the correct notice period

If you are going to resign and you have obtained legal advice around this, make sure you get your notice period right.

Otherwise, you may cheat yourself of other entitlements such as any annual leave you might have accrued before the worker's compensation kicked in.

Your notice period depends on the award you fall under.  It is different for each award. If you don't know your award or registered agreement, find out with Fair Work, which also has a notice period and redundancy calculator. 

Working for a new employer

Be aware that if you quit the job that you were doing when you sustained the injury, and go to one that pays less than your average weekly payment,  you may not be able to claim the shortfall with WorkCover. There are exceptions to this - if you move on to other employment as a result of ongoing injuries from the original injury, for example.

There is also the possibility of claiming 'top up' income where you demonstrate you are ready to return to your first employer after being on a lesser wage with a second employer. This will also depend on the first (pre-injury) employer’s willingness for you to return.

Under your workers obligations, you are required to demonstrate that you are ‘ready, willing and able’ to return to duties at work.  Taking up duties with a second employer may be viewed as breaching that requirement.

You must, under Queensland legislation, inform WorkCover if you return to any type of work – that could be paid, unpaid, self-employment or working for a mate.  You otherwise risk penalties or suspended payments.

If you are thinking about resigning while on WorkCover, remember these key considerations:

  • Take your time and gather information before making any decisions.
  • Find out whether resigning will impact your right to compensation payments (and get expert, risk-free advice where necessary).
  • If you decide to resign, get the notice period right.
  • Keep WorkCover up to date and informed.

Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For help understanding your rights, please call 1800 960 482 or chat via live chat to talk to one of our Lawyers today.

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