Your rights and ACC
By Gary Cranston, Unite Organiser
If you have suffered an accident that affects your ability to work, you may be eligible for ACC to cover the pay you normally receive through your job. This could be a temporary thing while you recover over a short period of time, or if your injury prevents you from working then you may be covered for as long as it takes.
If you suffer an injury and need to take time off work you should contact your unite union organiser immediately for advice or representation. It's not an easy process to navigate and we know that employers often break or ignore the rules. I have personally come across a number of workers working in the fast food industry who have been sent straight back to work while severely injured, against the instructions of their medical professionals, only to injure themselves further. This sort of company behavior can lead to workers sustaining permanent injuries that could affect their health and ability to make a living for the rest of their lives. In fact, I am dealing with a case just like this right now, with a very well known fast food chain.
Some companies manage ACC claims themselves, often hiring their own ACC "experts" who seem to enjoy sending employees to specialists whom they know personally in order to get the outcome they want, one that avoids the employer taking any responsibility for either causing an accident or paying for any compensation or admitting to any wrongdoing at all. Workers simply get told to go back to work, their ACC claims is rejected and their doctor's medical instructions ignored. Would you know what to do if you ended up in this situation? Would you know your rights?
If you want to know your rights regarding ACC, the Code of ACC Claimants’ Rights is a good place to start. The purpose of this Code is to meet the reasonable expectations of claimants about how ACC should deal with them.
- You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and it should be recognised that you may be under physical, emotional, social or financial strain.
- You have the right to be treated fairly, and to have your views considered.
- You have the right to have your culture, values, and beliefs respected.
- You have the right to a support person or persons.
- You have the right to effective communication. We will communicate with you openly, honestly, and effectively. We will respond to your questions and requests in a timely manner.
- You have the right to be fully informed, be provided with information on how to make a claim for cover and entitlements and to be provided with full and correct information about your claim, entitlements, obligations, and responsibilities.
- You have the right to have your privacy respected and you will be given access to your personal information at any time.
- You have the right to complain.
Again, if you cannot work as the result of an injury, contact your union organiser for guidance.
For more information about ACC see; http://www.acc.co.nz/making-a-claim/forms-and-fact-sheets/
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