If you're an injured worker and want to take a holiday, you need to follow these steps first, writes TGB Senior Associate Olla Kutieleh
Christmas and school holidays are here, and with it the opportunity to take a break interstate or overseas. However, if you are an injured worker and are currently in receipt of weekly income maintenance payments from Return to Work SA, before travelling you must consider your obligations to RTWSA to ensure you continue to receive your payments while on holiday.
What are my obligations if I want to travel overseas?
If you intend on travelling overseas while you are receiving income maintenance payments, Section 51 of the Return to Work Act 2014 (SA) specifically requires that you notify RTWSA at least 28 days before travelling outside Australia. If you fail to advise RTWSA of your travel plans, or any changes to your plans, this may result in suspension of your weekly payments.
Furthermore, Section 51(3) of the Act enables RTWSA to suspend income maintenance payments if they are unaware of your whereabouts, your earning capacity, or of the status of your injury.
Accordingly, the safest way to ensure your payments are not compromised while you are on holiday is to keep Return to Work informed of your plans.
What are my obligations if I want to travel or relocate interstate?
If you intend on travelling or moving interstate while you are receiving income maintenance payments from Return to Work, you must seek consent from Return to Work before you leave. You should also provide RTWSA with a valid medical certificate covering the period of time that you intend on residing outside of the State.
If you do not seek consent from RTWSA, your payments can be discontinued if you are found to be:
- Residing outside South Australia; or
- Absent from the State for more than 2 months in any continuous period of 12 months.
If your payments have been suspended we recommend you seek legal advice regarding having your payments re-instated.
What happens if I aggravate my injuries while on holiday – will I still be covered?
It depends on your specific circumstances, however if you are unfortunate enough to aggravate your injuries while on holiday it is unlikely that you will be covered.
In order to be entitled to weekly income maintenance payments, your incapacity for work must have been significantly contributed to by your employment. As such, if you are incapacitated for work because you have aggravated your work injury by participating in a non-work related activity, in most circumstances you are not entitled to payment of income maintenance.
Equally, you are entitled to payment of reasonable medical expenses incurred in relation to your work injury only. Therefore, any treatment you require to manage your non-work related aggravation is also unlikely to be covered.
If RTWSA are refusing to reimburse you for a medical expense or if they have ceased your payments on the basis that your injury is no longer work related you should seek legal advice about whether the decision of RTWSA is correct.
Tindall Gask Bentley Lawyers are highly skilled in workers compensation matters. Talk to one of us today and find out how we can help. Simply call your nearest officer here or register your details here and we’ll be in touch soon.