Blog


Amendments to the Workers Compensation Act

Friday, August 28, 2015

AMENDMENTS TO THE WORKERS COMPENSATION ACTS

The proposed amendments to the Workers Compensation Acts received formal assent from parliament on Friday 21 August 2015.

We have summarised the major amendments made to the Workers Compensation Acts:-

AMENDMENTS TO WEEKLY COMPENSATION

The Act has removed the term “seriously injured workers” and replaced with instead “worker with highest needs”.

A “worker with highest needs” is a worker who has an assessment of whole person impairment of more than 20%.

If you have an assessment of more than 20% whole person impairment you are now entitled to receive weekly payments of compensation until retirement age. There is no longer any need for the following to occur to receive weekly payments:-

  • To work at least 15 hours per week; and
  • To undergo work capacity assessments every 2 years.

A worker with an assessment of more than 20% whole person impairment is now entitled to receive weekly payments of compensation until retirement age based on the difference between the average weekly earnings prior to injury less any amount you are capable of earning in some suitable employment (or are actually earning in suitable employment).

This amendment applies to all claims from 21 August 2015.

MEDICAL EXPENSES

If you have an assessment of whole person impairment of 10% or less, then you are entitled to receive medical expenses for a maximum period of 2 years from the date on which weekly payments of compensation ceased to be payable.

If you have a degree of permanent impairment of more than 10% but 20% or less then you are entitled to medical expenses for a period of 5 years from the date on which weekly payments of compensation ceased to be payable to a worker.

This section does not apply to a worker with high needs. If you have an assessment of more than 20% then you are entitled to medical expenses for the remainder of your life.

The restrictions as outlined above do not however apply to the following kinds of medical or related treatment:-

  • The provision of crutches, artificial members, eyes or teeth and other artificial aids or spectacles including hearing aids and hearing aid batteries;
  • Any modifications required of a workers home or vehicle; or
  • Secondary surgery – secondary surgery is defined as surgery which is directly as a result of earlier surgery and effects the same part of the body and is needed within 2 years from the date of the earlier surgery.

This amendment applies to all claims from 21 August 2015.

RETIREMENT AGE

If you made a claim for weekly payments of compensation on or after 1 October 2012, you are now entitled to receive weekly payments for one year after your statutory retirement age.

COMPENSATION FOR RETURN TO WORK ASSISTANCE

If you have an assessment of whole person impairment of 20% or less and you are unable to return to employment with your pre injury employer and obtain employment with another employer, then the employer is liable to pay up to $1,000.00 in work assistance benefits.

If your degree of permanent impairment is assessed at more than 20% and you are unable to return to employment with your pre injury employer and obtain employment with another employer, then the employer is liable to pay up to $8,000.00 in work assistance benefits.

This applies only to work assistance occurring after 21 August 2015.

LUMP SUM COMPENSATION

For injuries received on or after 21 August 2015, the amount payable for lump sum compensation for permanent impairment has been increased substantially on average about a 30% increase in the amount payable.

CONCLUSION

The amendments are a welcome removal of some of the very harsh changes made in October 2012 however much of the legislation is still unfair particularly work capacity assessments performed by insurers rather than an independent tribunal or Court.

These amendments do not apply to police officers, paramedic, fire fighters or coal miners who remain entitled to compensation as payable under the 1987 Act prior to the amendments on 1 October 2012.


Comments
Post has no comments.

Post a Comment

Captcha Image