On 9 March 2017, the NSW Upper House Committee on Law and Justice handed down several recommendations after completing its first review of the Workers’ Compensation Scheme. The review occurred in response to numerous complaints about the current workers’ compensation system.
26 recommendations were made to amend the Act or vary the scheme. Some of the most important recommendations are;
Recommendation 6 is particularly beneficial as the inquiry found that scheme agents who exert undue pressure on nominated treating doctors should be penalised. This is a significant recommendation as our clients often complain that a scheme agent has conducted a conference with the client and there Nominated Treating Doctor and the scheme agent has pressured the doctor into signing off on work duties which the worker is unfit to complete.
Recommendation 14 provides that the NSW Government establish a ‘one stop shop’ to handle all workers’ compensation disputes. This will ensure that all dispute claims are handled fairly by appropriately trained personnel, this will streamline the process and make for fairer and quicker dispute resolution system and allow access to legal assistance.
Recommendation 17 puts forward an amendment to S 322A of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers’ Compensation Act 1998, which would allow for two separate assessments of permanent impairment. This would protect injured workers from being stuck with one assessment of permanent impairment, when their condition may worsen or deteriorate with time resulting in greater injury and a greater level of permanent impairment
While these recommendations are just that, recommendations, they do not need to be adopted by Government, however, they prove to be very persuasive in addressing the shortcomings of the current workers’ compensation system. The government is due to respond to the Committees recommendations by Monday 11 September 2017 and it is expected that at least some of the recommendations will be adopted.
To see the full list of recommendations please see: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/DBAssets/InquiryReport
GARLING & CO 2019