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  • Written by News Co Media


If you have been injured while on the job in Australia, then that entitles you to a workers’ compensation claim. But what if you decide to quit your job while your claim is being processed? Will that make you lose your benefits?

Leaving your current job while your workers’ compensation is in process is a two-edged sword. While that may result in you losing some of the benefits you are entitled to receive, doing so lets you work fewer hours for someone else and earn more. Either way, it is usually more ideal to stick to your current job until your case has come to a settlement.

In this article, you will discover the consequences of quitting your job before your workers’ compensation claim gets settled.

Quitting job during a workers’ compensation claim

Returning from work after sustaining a work-related injury is challenging, but what adds even more salt to the injury is when you feel that you are not getting enough support from your employer during your recovery.

Usually, if an employee gets injured while performing his duties, it is the employer’s responsibility to compensate the affected employee. Unfortunately, in most instances, workers under this situation feel an apparent breakdown in their relationships with their employers and colleagues to the point that they would rather quit their employment than keep going. If you are on the same page, you too might find it easier to leave your job than endure the feeling of being abandoned.

But with your workers’ compensation claim in full swing, you may want to weigh the pros and cons of handing in that resignation notice before you reach a settlement with your boss.

Under the workers compensation law, leaving employment during a settlement can be regarded as a breach of mutuality. Once this mutuality is breached, the employee in question automatically becomes barred from receiving his compensation weekly payments, otherwise known as income maintenance. That means if you leave your job now without waiting for your claim to get settled, you will no longer receive the weekly compensation you would otherwise receive if you stay.

But that is not all about it. Even if you think that your work-related injury has left you incapacitated and with no other option but to leave your job, the law can still consider your resignation as a reason not to entitle you to any workers’ compensation benefits. Worse, even if you are resigning in the best interest of your employer, doing it in the middle of a claim is considered a break of your legal obligations as an employee and can be considered a legal ground for denying you of your income maintenance entitlements. That is why under the “Return to Work” law, you and your employer are bound to keep your good employer-employee relationship after a work-related accident.

Claiming medical expenses following a resignation

While resigning can negatively affect your income maintenance entitlements, the good news is that it does not impact your other rights under the workers’ compensation legislation. These rights include your right to have all your medical expenses reimbursed during your rehabilitation. In fact, there are situations where you can even be entitled to a lump-sum medical compensation following a resignation. This simply shows that not all benefits under the workers’ compensation legislation are affected by an employee’s resignation.

Transferring to another job following a resignation

If you quit your job while your claim is being processed, your next move is most likely to find another job that can support your needs in the interim, provided that you are not sure whether you will still be entitled to your compensation benefits and that you are still capable of performing a new job despite your injury. But what if you leave your job because you have been offered a new one elsewhere? Will you still be able to avail of your benefits?

The answer to this will boil down to how much your new job pays you. Technically, you are breaching your obligation to your pre-injury employer by resigning—but it’s a different story if your new job lets you earn more than your Average Weekly Earnings. If your new employment compensates you more than your AWE, that will not negatively impact your workers’ compensation claim from your previous employer—meaning you will still receive your entitlements despite transferring to a new job. But if your new job is paying you less than your AWE, the law states that you will not be entitled to any income maintenance payments.

But there is more to this area of the workers’ compensation law than just that. This is because if you fail to keep your new job as a result of your injury from your previous employer, you can still process a further income maintenance claim if you restore your “mutuality” with your previous employer. The workers’ compensation legislation states that you can restore mutuality by showing that you are “ready, willing, and able” to get back to work and perform your duties with your previous employer again.

What is complicated about this is that you can never have the assurance that your employer will be willing to take you back, even if you are “ready, willing, and able” to return. If that is the case, then your employer has the right to reject your income maintenance claim.

Conclusion

In Australia, the law treats resigning from your job during a workers’ compensation settlement very differently from being terminated by your employer during the process. If your employer initiates your termination because he thinks you are no longer capable of performing your duties following an injury, then you may have a claim against your employer—although that still does not guarantee that you will get all your entitlements after your termination. Whether you initiated your resignation or your employer fired you after your work-related injury, it is always best to seek legal advice from a trusted professional like the workers compensation lawyers in Adelaide. That way, you will know where you stand and the steps you need to take to pursue a claim. 

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