Following on from our previous bulletin, Stand and be heard: an employer’s right to appear in the QIRC, the Industrial Court of Queensland has ruled that an employer does not have the right to be heard at an appeal to the QIRC filed by a worker against a decision of the Regulator.
In Brisbane City Council v Gillow and Simon Blackwood (Workers Compensation Regulator) (2016) ICQ 007, the Court determined that the QIRC does not have the power to give an employer leave to appear in an appeal to the QIRC filed by a worker.
In coming to this decision, the Court held that the entities who may become parties to an appeal are limited to those identified in section 549 of the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003. The net effect of the section is that an employer can only be a party to an appeal to the QIRC where the employer files the appeal or where WorkCover lodges an appeal.
This resolves the question of whether the QIRC has a discretionary power under the Industrial Relations Act 1999 to allow an employer to take part in an appeal. The Court held it would be inconsistent with the history of amendments to the workers’ compensation legislation if the Industrial Relations Act could be called upon in such a manner.
The practical implication of this decision is that employers and self-insurers will now have to live with the Regulator’s decision in relation to worker appeals before the QIRC. If the Regulator chooses not to oppose an appeal by a worker, the employer is unable to force the Regulator to do so, and cannot stand in the Regulator’s place.