Employer Rights & Responsibilities
As an employer you must provide a safe and healthy workplace for your workers and contractors. This includes:
- providing and maintaining safe plant (such as machinery and equipment) and safe systems of work (such as controlling entry to high risk areas, controlling work pace and frequency and providing systems to prevent falls from heights)
- implementing arrangements for the safe use, handling, storage and transport of chemicals (such as dangerous goods and other harmful materials)
- maintaining the workplace in a safe condition (such as ensuring fire exits are not blocked, emergency equipment is serviceable, and the worksite is generally tidy)
- providing workers and contractors with adequate facilities (such as clean toilets, cool and clean drinking water, and hygienic eating areas)
- making sure workers have adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to work in a safe and healthy manner.
You must also:
- adequately monitor your workers' health (such as providing hearing tests for workers exposed to high noise levels, providing blood tests for workers exposed to lead and monitoring fatigue levels of transport and other workers)
- keep information and records relevant to your workers' health and safety (such as records of biological monitoring, asbestos assessments, first aid records and relevant medical information)
- employ or engage people with the necessary qualifications or expertise to advise you on health and safety issues affecting your workers
- consult with employees on matters that may directly affect their health, safety or welfare. Where the employees are represented by a health and safety representative (HSR), the HSR must also be involved in the consultation
- nominate a senior management representative (or yourself) to deal with workers and their health and safety representatives in resolving health and safety issues at the workplace
- provide your workers with information in the appropriate languages about your workplace health and safety arrangements, including the names of those to whom the workers can make an inquiry or complaint.
- When hiring new employees you should inform them, in writing, of the nature of the work and ask if they have any pre-existing injury or illness that may be affected by the work.
- You should also inform them, in writing, that failing to notify or hiding a pre-existing injury or illness which might be affected by the nature of the proposed employment, could result in that injury or illness being ineligible for future compensation claims.
Other health and safety obligations
You must ensure that other people (such as your customers, visitors and the general public) are not endangered by the conduct of your business (for example, by providing protection from falling debris around construction sites, controlling traffic access to your workplace and limiting public access within your workplace).
You have additional specific obligations if your business involves the:
- manufacture, importation, transportation, supply, storage, handling or use of dangerous goods
- design, manufacture, importation, supply, erection or installation of plant
- manufacture, importation, or supply of substances.
You also have obligations to:
- meet particular licensing, registration and certification requirements
- immediately notify VWA of certain dangerous incidents
- co-operate with VWA Inspectors
- comply with Inspector's Notices and Written Directions issued by VWA OHS Inspectors.
Penalties for breaches of the Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004 were substantially increased. The maximum penalties are now $1,075,050* for a body corporate and $215,010 for a natural person* for individuals.
Workplace Injury Insurance
- Take out VWA insurance with a VWA Agent of your choice (unless your annual financial year payroll is expected to be $7500 or less).
- If you employ apprentices or trainees, you must have VWA insurance regardless of your annual payroll.
- Notify your VWA Agent of workplace or business activity changes (these changes can affect your classification and premium).
- Notify your VWA Agent if the address of your workplace changes or if you change your legal business operating name.
- Check your annual estimate of remuneration (and, if you have any claims, your claims statement) sent to you by your VWA Agent before the calculation of your premium each year.
- Notify your VWA Agent within 28 days if your remuneration increases or is likely to increase by 20% or more, above your last estimate of remuneration for the financial year.
- Certify your remuneration at the end of each financial year by the due date.
- Pay your premium by the due date shown on your invoice.
- If you are injured poster must be displayed in every workplace otherwise you could be liable for a penalty of up to $35,835* for a body corporate and $7,167* for a natural person. The poster must be displayed where all workers can read it.
- You have to keep a Register of Injuries to keep track of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- For workplace incidents that cause or could have caused serious injury or death you must notify VWA on 13 23 60.
- When an injured worker records an injury or illness in the Register of Injuries, you must acknowledge this registration in writing to the worker.
- If required the worker may visit a doctor. The doctor may call you to discuss possible return to work/alternative duties options.
- Stay in touch with the injured worker - it is advisable that you maintain contact with the injured worker as it can be beneficial to their recovery to feel that they have not been forgotten.
- Upon receipt of a claim for compensation, you must complete the employer section of the Worker's Injury Claim Form and acknowledge the receipt of the claim in writing as soon as reasonably practicable.
- It is an offence for you to:
- dismiss or threaten to dismiss a worker from employment alter or threaten to
- alter or threaten to alter the position of a worker to the worker's detriment
- treat a worker less favourably than another worker in relation to a promotion or reemployment
- Complete an Employer's Injury Claim Report if you receive:
- a Worker's Injury Claim Form for weekly benefits
- a Worker's Injury Claim Form for medical and like expenses more than your employer excess
- a Dependant's Claim for Compensation.
Employer's Injury Claim Reports are available online, from post offices, your VWA agent or by calling the VWA Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 or 03 9641 1444.
- Forward claims to your VWA Agent within the required timeframe. You must forward your Employer's Claim Report with:
- the completed Worker's Injury Claim Form
- any Certificate(s) of Capacity for time off work
- other relevant documents such as medical and like accounts, investigation reports, etc.
- You are required by law to forward to your VWA Agent:
- all claims for weekly payments (regardless of the number of days lost) within 10 days of receiving it from the injured worker
- claims for medical and like services only, which do exceed the first $660* of your employer excess must be forwarded within 10 days of receiving it from the injured worker
- claims for medical and like services only, which do not exceed the first $660* of your employer excess, can be forwarded at 3 month intervals.
- Additional liability and penalties may be applied if you forward any claim for time loss outside the legislative timeframes.
In addition, if you forward a claim for time loss and it is received by your VWA Agent or VWA more than 38 days after it was served on you by the worker, the claim is deemed accepted.
- If you accept a claim you are liable for payment of the first 10 days that the injured worker misses from work and also the first $660* of medical and like services (referred to as the employer excess), unless you have selected the Excess Buyout option.
If you are not accepting liability at this point, you do not have to pay anything at this stage. Simply forward the claim forms and certificate/s to your VWA Agent and await the Agent's decision.
- Once a claim for weekly benefits is accepted you will be advised by your VWA Agent and you will be required to make payment of weekly compensation to the worker on their regular pay day while an entitlement exists.
- If a claim has been accepted but you do not believe that you were the employer of the worker at the time of the injury, or that the worker was not a worker within the meaning of Victorian workers compensation legislation, then you have the right to request the decision to accept liability be reviewed.
You have 60 days from the date you receive notice of the acceptance of liability for the claim to request VWA undertake the review. If it is determined that liability for the claim should not have been accepted against your VWA insurance then any necessary premium adjustments will be made.
Return to work
* What to do if a worker is injured - A guide for employers
* Suitable employment for injured workers - A step by step guide to assessing suitable duties
* Contact your VWA Agent or call the Advisory Service on (03) 9641 1444 or 1800 136 089.
*This amount is correct from 1 July 2014 and is indexed annually. The information in this document is intended as a guide only and is current at July 2014. It is not a substitute for professional advice. Legislation varies from state to state, and is liable to change