Jarvis v The Salvation Army Southern Territory

A recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Victoria has confirmed that WorkCover decisions to stop the payment of weekly wages are open to scrutiny and revision by the Court.

In Jarvis v The Salvation Army Southern Territory WorkCover argued that their decision to terminate a workers claim for weekly payments could not be challenged or reversed by a Court.

Mr Jarvis had an accepted WorkCover claim and had received weekly payments. He returned to work with his employer on light duties but was later terminated for alleged misconduct.

After the termination of employment, he requested his insurer pay weekly payments again, but this request was refused by the insurer on the basis that Mr Jarvis’s misconduct and eventual termination of employment should not result in the reinstatement of weekly payments.

The insurer argued that their decision could not be reviewed as it was entirely up to them as to whether to make payments again. The insurer contended that upon it being shown that the worker was terminated for misconduct, it was free to make a decision in relation to weekly payments that could not be reviewed by Conciliation or the Court.

Thankfully, the Court found that regardless of the reason for the termination of weekly payments a worker can review the decision of their WorkCover insurer through Conciliation and then eventually Court. On an appeal against the termination of weekly benefits a Court is required to examine whether the WorkCover insurer decision was appropriate, taking into account that WorkCover benefits are in place to support injured workers.  If the decision was not fair it can be reversed by the Court, which is precisely the outcome achieved in Jarvis’s Case.

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