1.2.1 Respond to a subpoena | 1.2.2 Request for information | 1.2.3 Administrative access/release | 1.2.4 Receipt, scope and searches | 1.2.5 Information that can be released | 1.2.6 Exemptions from access to information | 1.2.7 Requests to amend the record | 1.2.8 Information disputes | 1.2.9 Provide information to ACCS | 1.2.10 Privacy | 1.2.11 Privacy principles | 1.2.12 Privacy complaints & incidents handling | 1.2.13 Privacy protection authorities & VCAT | 1.2.14 Respond to privacy incidents | 1.2.15 Employer's access to information | 1.2.16 Capturing informed consent from worker for digital communication (email and SMS)
These guidelines have been developed to help Agents process requests made by workers or their nominated representatives for injury claim information.
Every worker with an injury claim has a right to access documents relating to their claim in the claim file managed by an Agent.
WorkSafe extends as far as possible the right of any worker to access records in its or its authorised Agents’ possession. To achieve this, it promotes transparency and adopts a pro-disclosure approach to access to information.
This is achieved through both informal processes, like administrative access and formal, legal mechanisms under the Workplace Injury and Rehabilitation Act 2013 (WIRC Act Workplace Injury Rehabilitation & Compensation Act 2013) or the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).
The WIRC Act gives workers (and their authorised representatives) the legal right to access information about the worker's claim, other than exempt information. The WIRC Act does not give third parties a right to access information.
However, WorkSafe does not require individuals to use formal legal processes (like court orders, subpoenas or a formal request under the WIRC Act) as a matter of course or unnecessarily. Workers may access records from their injury claim file under administrative access arrangements.
For example Requests from or on behalf of a worker for a print out of their claims history from ACCtion are not processed under formal legal processes and can be dealt with administratively (by way of routine correspondence with the worker or their nominated representative - see: Administrative access/release)
Subpoenas, notices to produce or court orders (either requiring attendance at court or requiring the production of documents) must be dealt with promptly by the relevant Agent and within the timeframes specified.
Failure to do so could lead to court sanctions being imposed on the Agent, WorkSafe or an individual employee of the Agent or of WorkSafe.
When WorkSafe receives a subpoena, notice to produce or court order that relates to a worker’s claim which is being managed by an Agent, it will be referred to that Agent’s legally qualified personnel who are required to:
- advise the relevant business area/Case Manager
- provide assistance and
- ensure compliance with the subpoena/notice/order.
Workers may make a request for information themselves or they can authorise another person as a:
- nominated representative - the worker may choose to nominate a person to represent them (eg a union representative, solicitor/lawyer, family member or friend) for more formal communications (eg access to information requests) or
- legally appointed representative - a worker can have a legally appointed representative who acts on their behalf because the worker lacks legal capacity to act for themselves.
A request under the WIRC Act is one of many processes available to workers to access their injury claim documents or information. Most communication or exchange of information with workers occurs administratively in the normal course of Agent business and in administering an injury claim and return to work.
The WIRC Act and the FOI Act authorise and WorkSafe encourages disclosure of documents and information administratively where appropriate.
Nothing prevents Agents from disclosing injury claim information to workers or their nominated representatives in the exercise of its duties administering claims. Workers are not required to make formal or legal requests under the WIRC Act to access information or documents, as a matter of course or unnecessarily.
Administrative access arrangements operate alongside formal WIRC Act requests and the FOI Act.
Administrative access is a simpler, free and more efficient process than responding more formally to requests for documents under the WIRC Act.
- the injury claim form, other forms and documents, including correspondence, complaints, applications, printouts, previously provided by or on behalf of the worker
- worker personnel file documents containing the personal information of a requester (income pay slips, performance appraisals, remuneration information, group certificates, workplace health and safety assessments, incident reports regarding the worker)
- worker’s own witness statements or other statements provided to the Agent or contracted service providers and surveillance by or on their behalf
- file notes or audio recording of telephone or other conversations with the worker
- lists of payments made to worker or on behalf of the worker to service providers
- communications that the worker would be expected to have access to, such as letters regarding appointments for medical, occupational and rehabilitation services
- policy or procedure documents and any publicly available documents
- documents that would be released in full if the request were made under the WIRC Act.
Administrative release of documents may not be appropriate where:
- documents would disclose confidential legal communications
- release may breach the privacy laws or principles, for example, where a document includes another individual's personal information
- the document was provided in confidence
- the request would require significant resources to complete and would unreasonably divert the resources of the relevant area/business.
In such cases, workers should be advised to make formal requests to allow these issues to be properly considered.