In a decision that impacts all NSW employers, the NSW Government has recently introduced changes to the way workers compensation benefits and claims are assessed and paid.
The Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Act 2012 reforms, effective from 27 June 2012, include:
1. Active claims – For injured employees already receiving weekly payments prior to the introduction of these reforms, special arrangements apply. The changes differ depending on the length of time the injured employee has been receiving payments and their level of work capacity. Your insurer will be able to provide you with further details.
2. Journey claims - For employers, one of the most significant changes is in the area of journey claims, where an employee is injured while travelling between home and work while off-duty. Employees will now only be eligible for workers compensation benefits when there is a substantial connection between the person’s employment and the incident out of which the injury arose. What will constitute a “substantial connection”, however, will depend on the circumstances in each claim. Additionally, workers who are injured in motor vehicle accidents while travelling between their workplace and home may be entitled to compensation under the Compulsory Third Party Insurance (CTP) Scheme.
3. Return to work - Injured workers and their employers still need to work together to ensure the best possible return-to-work results, with any worker who is able to work obligated to, with the cooperation of their employer or insurer, make reasonable efforts to return to work in suitable employment. If a worker who is able to work fails to make reasonable efforts to do so, he or she may have their weekly payments suspended, or, in extreme cases, terminated. An injured employee may request their employer to provide such suitable employment, and the employer must comply with this request so far as it is practicable. WorkCover inspectors are now authorised to issue Employer Improvement Notices if they believe the employer is not meeting their obligations in this regard. In addition, it is an offence for the employer to fail to meet any of their obligations under the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Act 2012, subject to a penalty of up to $11,000.
4. Medical benefits – Payment for medical and related treatment will end at whichever occurs last:
- 12 months after the claim for compensation is made, or
- 12 months after the last payment of weekly benefits.
The restriction does not apply to workers with a whole person impairment of over 30 per cent. For these workers, medical cover continues.
5. Nervous shock and death benefits – There is no entitlement for family members of deceased or injured workers to make nervous shock claims on the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme. However, the existing statutory compensations for shock and death claims will continue to apply and include:
- An indexed lump sum (currently $481,950) payable to financial dependents, or the deceased worker’s estate if there are no dependents.
- Indexed weekly payments for dependent children (currently $122.50 per child per week).
- Funeral expenses ($9000).
If you have any questions regarding how to manage the return to work of an injured employee, please contact performHR on 1300 406 005 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kerstin Davey, General Manager.