The family juggle: Working parents and WorkCover

There is no good time to be injured at work, but when a worker who is injured also has a young family, there can be difficulties that arise with the potential to affect entitlements to compensation

Our job as personal injury lawyers is to look at the wider picture in order to ensure that the families of injured workers are not disadvantaged. 

One way we do this is to fight for the rights of working parents.

Take for example the case of Kara,* who worked as an animal management officer, a job she did for many years and loved. Prior to this, Kara had taken time off for the birth of her two children. She agreed to a permanent part-time role in animal management to start with, as this suited her family arrangements with two young children to care for. She intended to stay working part time until her youngest child started school so she could manage the “family juggle”. But then unexpectedly Kara was injured at work. 

Kara sought advice from Arnold Thomas & Becker and we lodged a serious injury application on her behalf which was denied. The challenge to Kara’s case was focused on economic loss. The legal test for Kara to be able to claim loss of earnings is to demonstrate that she has a loss of earning capacity of 40 per cent or more. This is usually done by a comparison of her “without injury” earnings and her “after injury earnings”. At the hearing Kara gave evidence that not only was she unable to increase her work hours but that she was struggling with her current hours and she couldn’t also run the house and “be a mum” and do everything she needed to do for the family. 

Arnold Thomas & Becker successfully argued that although Kara was working part-time before her accident, she had the intention to work full time when her second child started prep. This meant that the appropriate “without injury” earnings was based on full time hours. As a result Kara was able to meet the economic loss test and bring her claim for economic loss.

You should not be disadvantaged just because of the timing of when you were injured. Like many working mothers, Kara had intended to return to full-time work once her children were at school.

If your work accident has derailed your life and impacted your family, then you owe it to yourself and your family to get expert advice. You don’t have to know the law but if it doesn’t feel right then contact Arnold Thomas & Becker for a no-obligation meeting – call today to speak to a lawyer: 1300 333 300.

Depending on the circumstances of your accident or illness you may be able to make a common law claim instead of, or as well as, a WorkCover claim. For more information about common law claims, visit our Common Law webpage.

*based on a real client and judgement