Woolworths Meatworkers Injured at Work

Are you a Woolworths Butcher, Meat Wrapper or Cabinet Attendant?

We all know that Woolworths is currently restructuring the meat departments.

Most stores are going to “case ready” which means that there are no butchers and no meat wrappers or cabinet attendants. Approximately one third of the supermarket stores will have a “butcher shop” which will have a couple of butchers and no meat wrappers or cabinet attendants. Butchers have to re-apply for butchers’ jobs and, if successful, can stay on the same pay schedule. Butchers, meat wrappers or cabinet attendants who accept a replenishment role will be on a different contract from their previous jobs.

Team members who choose not to accept any of the new roles will be eligible to apply for redundancies.

Do you have a work related injury – accepted WorkCover claim?

If you have an accepted work related injury, Woolworths continues to be responsible for your WorkCover entitlements even if you are no longer employed by them. You need to continue to provide Certificates of Capacity if you are not fit for your pre-injury duties. Unless you have received a notice that medical and like expenses are being terminated, the bills/receipts for doctors, physiotherapists, specialists etc should continue to go to Employers Mutual for payment.

If you get a letter notifying termination of treatment (or of the claim itself) you can appeal such a decision, the AMIEU helps members to do this.

If you have a work related injury, that has been reported and WorkCover has not yet been claimed; but you still need treatment you should lodge the claim promptly. They may reject a claim lodged after your employment has finished so do not put it off. Claim forms can be found at the Post Office.

If the claim is rejected you can appeal such a decision, the AMIEU helps members to do this also.

Are you unfit for any duties?

If you are off work, unfit for any duties and are in receipt of WorkCover weekly payments and medical and like expenses you should still be informed about the restructuring of meat departments. If your job disappears in the process you should be informed so you can apply for other jobs as soon as you are fit for something. You continue to be entitled to weekly payments and medical and like expenses as long as you keep providing certificates of capacity.

If you are no longer employed by Woolworths you should be paid your annual leave and long service leave in addition to your WorkCover. This is not double dipping as you earned these entitlements earlier. If you are also paid redundancy because your job no longer exists, there can be a period in which weekly payments are in limbo but start again as soon as the redundancy has finished i.e. 16 weeks redundancy payments means that weekly payments start again in week 17. Also don’t forget that you have to keep providing certificates.

Are you performing suitable alternative duties or modified duties but not pre-injury duties?

If you have a capacity for alternative or modified duties, including reduced hours Woolworths is probably providing the suitable alternative duties. They are obliged to do so for 52 weeks in which you have WorkCover certificates. They are also obliged to provide a return to your pre injury employment or its equivalent for that period if you are fit for your pre injury duties.

They can provide duties for longer than 52 weeks if they choose to do so. If they do you should be still paid WorkCover if you are earning less than your pre-injury average weekly earnings (PIAWE) which can change at 52 weeks as penalty rates and overtime drop out if you used to earn them. If you are working in suitable alternative duties WorkCover is 80% of PIAWE minus 80% of Current Weekly Earnings.

What you need to remember however is that your entitlements to WorkCover do not stop after 52 weeks just because Woolworths’ obligations to provide duties stop. If you are not fit for your pre-injury duties you need to keep providing WorkCover Certificates – don’t stop providing them.

The restructure of the meat departments does not reduce your entitlements under the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act. If you are fit for suitable alternative duties and your employer does not provide them you are entitled to have WorkCover weekly payments to be paid by Woolworths still - even if you are no longer employed by them. You do need to keep seeing your treating practitioners and providing certificates. Woolworths also still have to provide reasonable medical and like expenses.

If you don’t have suitable alternative duties provided, you have to look for suitable employment. If you need assistance with searching for work and/or retraining Woolworths should meet reasonable costs of such services. You will need assistance from treating practitioners and/or rehabilitation providers to get these.

If you are a member of the AMIEU we will help.

October 2015