As an employee, your well-being and safety at work are paramount. That’s why the law explicitly prohibits employers from engaging in bullying, harassment, or threats against workers who intend to lodge or have already made a WorkCover injury claim. The same legal protections extend to workers who raise concerns about occupational health and safety issues in their workplace.
Under Section 76 of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, employers are prohibited from discriminatory actions against employees, which include:
- Dismissing an employee or threatening to do so.
- Causing injury to an employee.
- Altering an employee’s position to their detriment or threatening to do so.
- Refusing or failing to offer employment to a prospective employee or treating one prospective employee less favorably than another in terms of employment.
It is crucial for employers to understand that breaching Section 76 can result in severe consequences. They may face fines or even sentences if they retaliate against workers who have raised health and safety concerns with their employer, a WorkCover health and safety inspector, or a member of the organization’s health and safety committee.
Moreover, in Victoria, the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 reinforces these protections for injured workers. Under Section 578 of this Act, employers are barred from dismissing or threatening to dismiss an injured worker. They are also forbidden from treating an injured worker less favorably than other workers when it comes to promotion or reemployment opportunities.
These legal provisions aim to safeguard workers’ rights and ensure that they can pursue their WorkCover claims and raise health and safety concerns without fear of retaliation or discrimination. As an injured worker, you should be aware of your rights and protections under the law. If you face any form of bullying, harassment, or discriminatory actions related to your WorkCover claim, it is crucial to seek immediate advice and support. By standing up for your rights, you not only protect yourself but also contribute to fostering a safe and respectful work environment for all employees. Remember, there are legal mechanisms in place to hold employers accountable for their actions, ensuring that workers can focus on their recovery and return to work without unnecessary stress or fear.