Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, 1986


Workers compensation provides valuable protection to workers and their employers in the event of a workplace-related injury or disease. Through workers compensation, injured workers can receive weekly payments to cover loss of earning capacity, payment of medical expenses and vocational rehabilitation expenses, where necessary, to assist them return to work.

South Australia has a no fault workers rehabilitation and compensation scheme which is established by the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986. If you suffer an injury in the course of employment you may be eligible for entitlements pursuant to the Act such as:

  1. Payment of medical and other reasonable expenses
  2. Weekly payments of income maintenance for any time lost from work
  3. Rehabilitation services
  4. A lump sum payment for a permanent disability as prescribed under the Act.

Additionally, if a work accident results in the death of a worker, the spouse of the worker may be entitled to a lump sum payment and weekly payments of income maintenance.

You should wherever practical, report any work related injury/illness within 24 hours. If you injury yourself you should complete a report form no matter how small the injury. If a worker is injured in your workplace and wants to lodge a compensation claim for that injury, you are required to complete an Employer Report Form.

The Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986 provides protection of employment in certain circumstances to injured workers. Promptly contact your Union or Safework SA if your employer attempts to terminate your employment whilst on compensation. In accordance with the fore mentioned Act, entitlements to sick leave, annual leave and long service leave (where applicable) continue to accrue. If your absence is continuous for 52 weeks or longer, special provisions apply in respect to your annual leave.

As an injured worker what are my rights?
        - As part of the claims and rehabilitation process, workers have rights including:
        - to select their treating medical practitioners
        - to participate in all decisions and actions relating to their rehabilitation
        - to have a current copy of their return to work program or plan
        - to seek the attendance of a representative of their choice at any meeting which involves rehabilitation (e.g. Shop Steward, Occupational Health and Safety Representative or other official)
        - to have the right to seek independent advice before signing any documentation
        - to have personal information kept confidential by the parties authorised for purposes of rehabilitation and not be disclosed without the member's written permission?
        - to receive medical or vocational information (including statements made by yourself) which relates to their claim and is in the possession of WorkCover/Exempt Employer
        - to challenge a rehabilitation program or plan set up which takes proper account of individual needs including recognition or cultural or linguistic backgrounds
        - unless certain conditions are met not to be dismissed from employment due to a work related claim for compensation
        - not to be required to carry out duties which are in conflict with the agreed medical constraints
        - not to undergo surgery or other forms of treatments against your will
        - to seek the authority of any person wishing to obtain information or statements in relation to your injury. 

As in injured worker what are my responsibilities?
   As part of the claims and rehabilitation process, workers have the following responsibilities

        - to report and fill in a notice of disability regarding ANY work related injury/disability/illness to their employer within 24 hours or as soon as practicable after the occurrence of the disability
        - to undertake appropriate treatment from doctors of their choice to facilitate early and safe return to work
        - to participate actively and constructively in the planning and implementation of a
        - rehabilitation program or plan'
        -  to participate actively in a rehabilitation program with the agreed primary goal, where possible, being a return to safe suitable work
        - to accept the provision of safe and suitable alternative/light duties that are appropriate and meet medical constraints
        - to abide by agreed medical constraints. 
        - to be reviewed, in accordance with the Act, by WorkCover/Exempt Employer nominated medical practitioner.
        - remember these doctors are only permitted to examine, assess and report. Treatment is always by a doctor of your choice. 

Call your Union if you are unsure about matters concerning your responsibilities and/or entitlements.

For further more detailed information about workers compensation head to the 
WorkCover website or the Legal Services Commission.